24 Feb 2004

Fiji military commander seeks loyalty pledge from five senior officers

8:03 am on 24 February 2004

Fiji's military commander wants the five senior officers sent on leave last month for refusing to pledge allegiance to him to resign.

The five officers are the former chief of staff, Col Ratu George Kadavulevu, Col Alfred Tuatoko whom George Speight tried to name as his army commander during the coup, Colonels Samuela Raduva and Akuila Buadromo and naval officer Commander Timoci Koroi.

The Fiji Times quotes the military commander, Commodore Frank Bainmarama, as saying since they disagreed on a matter of principle, "the honourable thing for them to do is resign because the military does not want these kinds of people in their midst."

The five refused to pledge allegiance to the commander at the height of the stand-off regarding his reappointment last month, saying they were loyal to the army as an institution.

The officers are expected back in camp after their leave but Commodore Bainimarama says if their allegiance cannot be relied on in peace time, where would that leave the military.

During his national address on the crisis last month, the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, said the constitution gave the military commander total executive authority over all ranks, including the power to discipline officers.