4 Jun 2005

Fiji PM insulted military, says commander

7:25 am on 4 June 2005

Relations between Fiji's military and the government have taken another turn for the worse, with the commander accusing the prime minister of publicly insulting the military.

Commodore Frank Bainimarama has told Fiji TV that Laisenia Qarase walked out in the middle of a reception during a parade to welcome home 1,500 soldiers who have seen service in East Timor over the last five and a half years.

Commodore Bainimarama says the military was snubbed and feels very disappointed.

He says he doesn't know why the prime minister's party accepted the invitation to attend when in the middle of the reception they stood up and left.

Commodore Bainimarama says the action shows the government doesn't appreciate the sacrifices made by the military.

The showdown comes after several weeks of tension during which the military publicly condemned the government's Reconciliation and Unity Bill saying it was a threat to the national security and stability of Fiji.