15 Dec 2003

Calls for Fiji's military commander to have his contract renewed

9:12 am on 15 December 2003

Fiji's opposition leader and the Labour Party are both insisting that Commodore Frank Bainimarama remain military commander after his current five year term expires.

The Daily Post says that Mick Beddoes and Mahendra Chaudry's backing came amid reports that the government is unlikely to renew Commodore Bainimarama's term.

It had earlier offered the Commodore diplomatic postings abroad which he had turned down in favour of completing investigations into the military's role in the May 2000 coup and the army mutiny the following November.

Mr Beddoes says there is a definite need for Commodore Bainimarama to remain as military head until the end of the multi party Cabinet case and the investigations into the coup.

He says Commodore Bainimarama's contract should be renewed until the end of the term of the current government.

Mr Chaudhry says if Commodore Bainimarama is removed, it will mean that the government is trying to protect criminal elements who had a hand in the coup.

The Fijian Political Party, the SVT, has also urged the government to retain Commodore Bainimarama, adding that not to do so would reek of corruption.