26 Oct 2005

US President praises Fiji peacekeepers

11:10 am on 26 October 2005

United States president George Bush has commended Fiji's international peacekeeping role since 1978 and called on it to adhere to the rule of law and constitutional government.

Mr Bush made the remarks when accepting the credentials of Fiji's new ambassador to Washington, Jesoni Vitusaqavulu.

Mr Bush described Fiji as a brave island ally and praised its decision to deploy more soldiers to Iraq.

He said Fijians have served with distinction in Lebanon, Sinai, East Timor, Kosovo, Rwanda, Solomon Islands and recently agreed to send police and army officers to Sudan.

Mr Bush also urged the Fiji government and the military to preserve and defend the rights of all citizens by adhering to the rule of law and constitutional governance.

He said true reconciliation and an end to coups were noble goals to pursue because of "Fiji's unfortunate history of the illegal removal of democratically elected governments."

The military spokesman, Captain Neumi Leweni, had told the Fiji Times that what President Bush said was exactly what the army has championed all along.

He said that is why the military supports the police, the DPP and the judiciary to deal with those who were involved in disturbances.