14 Jan 2006

Fiji military head sacks Land Force Commander after reported rift

7:16 am on 14 January 2006

Fiji's military commander has dismissed one of his most senior officers who had challenged him on his standoff with the government.

Fiji TV reports that Commodore Bainimarama has relieved his newly-appointed Land Force Commander, Col Jone Baledrokadroka, of his duties and sent him on leave until further notice.

Col Baledrokadroka says the leave will be pending his resignation.

He told Fiji TV last night that the military should be apolitical, and that democracy might be fragile in the country, but it's all they have.

Col Baledrokadroka says he has had professional differences with Commodore Bainimarama but the commander has a hard task maintaining stability and he wishes him well.

He says the military should be looked up to an instrument of stability but it has been giving out the wrong signals.

Commodore Bainimarama has dismissed speculation he wants to oust the government, saying he's looking forward to a scheduled meeting on Monday with the prime minister and acting president.

"...and I'm looking forward to the meeting so we can resolve all these issues that people are talking about, and which we think are fairly outstanding."