31 Oct 2006

New Zealand defence minister concerned over Fiji ammunition row

2:31 pm on 31 October 2006

The New Zealand defence minister, Phil Goff, has expressed concern over the apparent disagreement in Fiji over a shipment of ammunition ordered by the military.

The Minister's comments follow reports that Fiji's military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, has issued a warning to the police commissioner Andrew Hughes to release ammunition currently at Suva Wharf.

Commissioner Hughes is reportedly holding back the ammunition over national security fears.

This comes as Commodore Bainimarama wants the government to drop two controversial bills.

Mr Goff says the situation in Fiji is far from normal.

"I think it's quite wrong that the military tries to intrude into public life to dictate to elected politicians not withstanding the merits of the argument, my advice to Commodore Bainimarama is that if he wants to get into politics take his uniform off set up a political party or join a political party that's the legitimate way to influence the policy direction of a country."

Phil Goff.

A meeting is being held between the police and the military in the next few hours to discuss the standoff over the ammunition.