25 Oct 2010

Fiji military officers replaced

10:14 pm on 25 October 2010

Fiji's interim prime minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama has replaced two senior military officers.

Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga is to take over as Land Force commander, while Major Amani Suliano has been appointed to lead the 3rd Fiji Infantry Regiment commander.

The move comes after Brigadier Pita Driti and the former commander of the infantry regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara, were sent on extended leave.

The government information office has maintained that the officers are taking accumulated leave, but Fiji Live quotes Commodore Bainimarama announcing the new appointments.

He has dismissed media reports saying the officers had been dumped because of questions over their allegiance to him.

Radio Fiji quoted Commodore Bainimarama as saying the men were told to take a holiday as they have accumulated substantial amount of leave days over the years.

Late last year, there were moves to send General Driti to head Fiji's contingent of troops working for the United Nations in Iraq, but he was rejected for the position, with the UN citing accusations of human rights abuses.

The army took power in a coup in December 2006. It was the fourth coup in Fiji since 1987.