18 Dec 2002

Fiji army commander says coup soldiers in bid to remove him

10:16 am on 18 December 2002

Fiji's army commander, Rear Admiral Frank Bainimarama, says senior military officers seen in parliament during the May 2000 coup are behind attempts to remove him.

The same officers still serving in the army were named in the recent court martial of mutinous soldiers who attempted to assassinate the commander in a gun battle in November 2000.

Radio Fiji quotes Rear Admiral Bainimarama as saying these officers are colluding with the Fiji Peacekeepers Association for his removal.

The conspiracy was uncovered when a regular soldier was arrested for circulating a petition signed by members of the association.

Rear Admiral Banimarama says the action by the Peacekeepers Association is an attempt to undermine command, control and discipline within the military and incite ill-feeling among the ranks.

He says all attempts will be made to curb this mutinous act and the perpetrators should know that the interest and security of the nation will remain paramount.

The Peacekeepers Association has confirmed that it is seeking the commander's removal, saying it is their democratic right to do so.

Fiji's army was put on high alert and armed troops were stationed to guard all entrances to the main army camp at Nabua when the plot was uncovered late yesterday.

Police later raided the offices of the Peacekeepers Association to seize evidence relating to its activities.