17 Nov 2006

Fiji government should throw out military demand over police commissioner

12:01 pm on 17 November 2006

There is a call for the Fiji government to throw out a demand from the military that the police commissioner, Andrew Hughes, resign.

The associate professor of governance at the University of the South Pacific, Dr Jon Fraenkel, says the ongoing demands from the military are damaging Fiji's economy, its democracy, and are a very negative development for the country.

The military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, is reported to have sent a letter to the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, with six demands, including that police drop all investigations against him, the police commissioner is removed, and cabinet ministers charged with coup-related matters should be dumped.

Dr Fraenkel says the one thing that hasn't happened during the crisis is the government coming out and flatly refusing to accede to the military's demands.

"I think the third demand that says that Andrew Hughes should resign is one that the government should not accept. I mean Andrew Hughes has significantly improved policing in Fiji and has got the confidence of many of Fiji's citizens. I think that's a demand that really needs to be thrown out."

Dr Fraenkel says it would be far better for those in the military with political aspirations to resign and stand for elected office.