13 Jan 2006

Fiji rights group says bid to remove military head should be discouraged

8:26 am on 13 January 2006

The Citizens' Constitutional Forum in Fiji says any move to remove the military commander, Commodore Bainimarama, should be discouraged because it says this will be playing into the hands of the supporters of the 2000 coup.

The comment came after the National Security Council held an emergency meeting yesterday on the government's standoff with the military commander.

The meeting came amidst unconfirmed reports of senior military officers having differences with their commander.

The executive director of the CCF, the Reverend Akuila Yabaki, says the commander's insistence on the prosecution of coup offenders enjoys wide public support.

On the alleged pressures on Commodore Bainimarama to stand down, the Reverend Yabaki say the issue should be left in the hands of the acting president and commander-in-chief, Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, to resolve.

The Reverend Yabaki says the rule of law and the security of all communities should be the uppermost concern and no political agenda should be pursued in secrecy.

Part of the concern about differences within the army was sparked off by a statement from the minister of home affairs, Josefa Vosanibola, which said the government was "aware of a situation" within the military.

The Fiji Times says a relaxed looking Commodore Bainimarama, who was watching the Suva rugby team in training last night, said there was no crisis and no instability in the camp.