28 Sep 2006

Fiji military firm on bill opposition

3:04 pm on 28 September 2006

Fiji's army says its stance on controversial government bills has nothing to do with the American military.

The army is demanding an apology from the United States ambassador in Suva, Larry Dinger, after he warned its commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, not to involve the military in politics.

Commodore Bainimarama had criticised key government bills, saying they would return Fiji to grass skirts, canoes and cannbilism.

The commander had reportedly said he was motivated to speak out by the commander of US troops in the Pacific, Lieutenant General John Brown.

Mr Dinger later said Commodore Bainimarama had misunderstood General Brown.

But Fiji's military spokesman, Major Neumi Leweni, blamed an inaccurate newspaper report for the mix-up and says the army's influenced by no-one.

"Our stance on the Qoliqoli Bill and the Reconciliation and Unity Bill has never changed. It's what we've been saying prior to the meeting between the Commander and the General so nothing's or anyone for that matter has influenced the stance of the RFMF."

Major Leweni says the military's still awaiting an apology from the ambassador.