28 Mar 2006

Fiji military vows to continue street marches

3:40 pm on 28 March 2006

Fiji's military is to continue conducting marches before the elections and they may take the same route as the one through the streets of Suva yesterday.

There were concerns raised that the march of 500 fully armed soldiers and 17 vehicles which went past the gates of parliament, was an unnecessary show of force and could be seen as intimidating.

A military spokesperson, Lt.Colonel Orisi Rabukawaqa, says normal marches would number anywhere from 70 to 200 soldiers so it was an unusual size yesterday.

But, Lt.Colonel Rabukawaqa says it was the commander's parade and a decision was then taken to add a route march to that.

"Well, one would say it was an unnecessary show of force. Another perspective would be to show the public in general that we are well behind the police, particularly in the lead-up to the elections, the elections themselves, even post-elections, that we are ready to support and ensure the maintenance of order in the country."

Lt. Colonel Rabukawaqa says the message to be taken from the march is that the army is there for the people of the country, no matter what government is in power, and that it is the last bastion of security.