18 Jul 2005

Fiji opposition leader warns against use of private militias

10:10 am on 18 July 2005

Fiji's opposition leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, has warned against the development of any private militia groups in the country similar to those operating in the Middle East and other trouble spots.

The Fiji Sun says Mr Chaudhry's caution follows an offer by a Fijian security officer, Viliame Raqio, of the Tel Aviv-based company Global Security International, to defend the Qarase government from the military if the Reconciliation and Unity Bill is passed.

Mr Raqio said his protection squad is only awaiting a call from the government if the military tries to stop the passing of the Bill, adding that he had briefed both the prime minister and the minister for home affairs.

But Mr Chaudhry says the offer smacks of a serious threat to law and order.

He says the country cannot afford armed mercenaries with no loyalty except to those who pay them.

Mr Chaudhry says the government should not encourage this kind of development, because there have been enough problems in the past with unruly and misguided soldiers who have turned into terrorists when offered large sums of money.