27 Apr 2005

Former Fiji military boss hopes commander will keep out of politics

8:13 am on 27 April 2005

Fiji's military commander is being urged to steer the armed forces away from politics.

The government coalition partner, Conservative Alliance Matanitu Vanua has accused the military of threatening to destabilise the country.

And the former commander, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, says it's going to take a very long time to erase the memory of 1987, when the army officer General Rabuka took over the government.

Ratu Epeli was credited with returning the army to political neutrality and a professional outlook during the 1990s.

"I think we're still heading in that direction, and I hope that the current standoff will not be seen as moving away from the professional stance. I know the people who are in the military now are very professional people and they are people who the nation can also rely on."

Fiji's home affairs minister, Josefa Vosanibola, has recently instructed the military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, not to speak in public on national security issues.