26 Sep 2006

Fiji military must not interfere with elected government, says US envoy

6:39 am on 26 September 2006

The United States government says Fiji's military must not attempt to involve itself in politics and must never challenge the powers of an elected civilian government.

The United States ambassador in Suva, Larry Dinger, made the comment after the military commander Commodore Bainimarama, said he was motivated to speak out by a challenge issued by the commander of US troops in the Pacific, Lieutenant General John Brown.

General Brown told the Pacific Armies Management Seminar at Nadi this month that divisive issues "should not be faced with politeness but with honesty."

Radio Legend quotes Mr Dinger as saying that Commodore Bainimarama had misunderstood General Brown's comments.

Mr Dinger said the comments were not intended in any way to suggest how military leaders in democracies should relate to their civilian governments.

He said General Brown had emphasised to him the US view that the military in a democracy must not attempt to involve itself in politics and must not give the impression that it is seeking to usurp the powers of an elected government.

Meanwhile, the military is expected to call on the Fiji government to withdraw its controversial Qoliqoli Bill which aims to transfer ownership of the foreshore to its original indigenous owners.