25 Oct 2004

Fiji military commander rejects senator's remarks about reconciliation ceremony

10:24 am on 25 October 2004

Fiji's military commander says the nation belongs to all its citizens and no one should feel intimidated by politicians who spit out racist remarks.

The Daily Post reports that Commodore Frank Bainimarama says the military is the last bastion of law and order and will ensure that Fiji's citizens are secure.

Commodore Bainimarama was responding to statements by Senator Ratu George Cakobau that those who refused to accept the government organised apology and reconciliation ceremony earlier this month should get out of the country.

Speaking through his spokesman, Commodore Bainimarama says the senator would be shocked to find that a large percentage of those who did not accept the apology were indigenous Fijians.

Commodore Bainimarama says as an institution, the military understands Fijian customs and traditions, and an apology by aggressors is a public declaration of guilt.

He says it is then baffling that when the same people are taken to court, they plead not guilty, raising questions whether the apology was used frivolously.

He says the rule of law and democracy is the order of the day in the 21st century, and the senator should use parliamentary privilege for nation building and not destructive statements.