18 May 2004

Fiji cabinet meets over allegations against army commander

3:38 pm on 18 May 2004

Fiji's cabinet is meeting today to decide what to do about allegations that the army commander planned to overthrow the government.

The cabinet is discussing accusations made by three suspended army officers that Commodore Frank Bainimarama wanted plans drawn up in December to overthrow the government.

There are concerns being voiced, however, that the government is using the unsubstantiated accusations to make a move against Commodore Frank Bainimarama, whom it re-appointed under pressure in March.

The Information minister, Simione Kaitani, says the Home Affairs minister, Joketani Cokanisiga, will present his recommendations to cabinet.

"He says this follows a National Security Council meeting held yesterday. (Mon)"

Well, I think the fact that they have referred it to cabinet now, shows some seriousness in the concerns by, especially by the National Security Council.

The opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, says he hopes the cabinet doesn't jump to conclusions and is repeating his call for the allegations to be properly investigated by the police.

The Citizens Constitutional Forum says it's concerned that the government is manoeuvring to get rid of the army commander on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations.

The CCF's Jone Dakuvula says the three officers have never supported the commander and it's simply an attempt to derail an army investigation into their participation in the coup.

Mr Dakuvula says the cabinet is taking the allegations seriously when the police are not even investigating them.

Some of the people who have been manoeuvring to get rid of the commander are now sitting as a jury for a sort of political trial in the security council and the cabinet to decide on his future. Some of the ministers and some of the senior civil servants have been conspiring to get rid of the commander.

Mr Dakuvula says there should be an independent inquiry into the whole situation.