15 Mar 2006

Fiji military challenges police over arms consignment

7:46 pm on 15 March 2006

Fiji's military has accused the police commissioner of trampling on the country's sovereignty by commandeering nearly 1.5 million US dollars worth of guns and equipment it says should have gone to its troops.

In a statement, the military has accused Andrew Hughes of arming the police in a challenge to the military's role as the final custodian of Fiji's national security.

It says the military views this seriously and will take all necessary measures to ensure national security is not compromised.

But Mr Hughes has rejected the claim, saying he is very surprised over the military's stance.

He says the weapons have never been intended for the armed forces.

The military statement also alleged that Mr Hughes, who is Australian, is a silent extension of an Australian defence review team which recommended police take over much of the military's role in Fiji.