30 Oct 2006

Fiji military sends officer on leave over loyalty doubts

5:34 am on 30 October 2006

Fiji's military has sent a senior army officer on leave while it investigates his loyalty to the institution.

The Sunday Times reports that the military spokesman, Major Neumi Leweni, has confirmed that Lieutenant Colonel Etueni Caucau was told to take leave last Friday because his loyalty was in doubt.

The order was given by the acting commander, navy Captain Esala Teleni, in the absence of Commodore Bainimarama who is visiting Fiji troops in the Middle East.

Colonel Caucau has confirmed he was told to take leave but insists his loyalty lies with the current leadership and the institution.

He says his loyalty to the commander is intact and he has to clear things up with Commodore Bainimarama when he gets back.

The move is believed to have been sparked by the military's standoff with the government in which the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has been asked to withdraw the Reconciliation and Unity and the Qoliqoli, or foreshore bills or resign.