20 Apr 2005

Fiji military commander vows to continue to speaking out on important issues

1:23 pm on 20 April 2005

Fiji's military commander says he will not be gagged if there is a need to speak out on issues of national importance.

The Fiji Times reports Commodore Frank Bainimarama made the comment after the minister for home affairs, Josefa Vosanibola, instructed him to be silent on national security issues.

But Commodore Bainimarama says if he feels there is a need to address the nation over the military's position on any issue, he would do so.

The row erupted after the military commander sharply criticised the early release of two government MPs after they were jailed for their role in the Labasa army mutiny during the coup.

Commodore Bainimarama said their release made a mockery of the military, the police and the judiciary, adding that the convicted chiefs are running free thanks to corrupt decision makers.

Mr Vosanibola has been quoted as saying he would impose a surcharge on the commander if he speaks out again.

But Commodore Bainimarama says he is surprised the minister is threatening action against him.