29 Sep 2003

Fiji's army facing accusations of interference in governance

4:30 pm on 29 September 2003

Fiji's National Federation Party has criticised the army for what it says is interference in the governance of the country.

The party was referring to the army's recent objections to the setting up of the Parole Board and its call for the removal of the secretary of home affairs, Col Jeremaia Waqanisau.

NFP leader, Prem Singh, says the army cannot use the excuse of upholding law and order, and maintaining peace and stability, to make public comments on national issues.

Mr Singh says the armed forces of democratic countries must take their cue from elected governments and act strictly in accordance with the directives of the state.

But in an editorial today the FIJI SUN newspaper has defended the military, saying it has every right to question issues when they feel security might be threatened.

The SUN has recalled the looting and burning of Suva during the coup three years ago, the terrorising of farmers forced to flee their homes, the army mutinies, the seizure of police stations by rebels and the foreceful takeover of hydro dams, water plants and roads.

It says were it not for the military, Fiji would be in chaos now and if the setting up of the Parole Board leads to the release of people responsible for this crisis, this should be of concern to the military.

The SUN says the freedom of these people in itself could bring the country a lot of instability.