28 Mar 2006

Fiji's ruling SDL calls march by armed soldiers intimidating

8:56 am on 28 March 2006

Fiji's ruling SDL party says yesterday's pre-election march by 500 fully armed soldiers through the streets of Suva past parliament was intimidating.

The Daily Post quotes the SDL's newly appointed assistant spokesman, Imraz Iqbal, as saying the military should grow up instead of flexing its muscles in public.

Commodore Frank Bainimarama said the military was showing that it was there to protect the public in the lead-up to the general election.

But Mr Iqbal says the commander is seriously undermining the ability of the people to vote in a democratically elected government.

Mr Iqbal says this is an irresponsible show of arms at a time when the country needs stability.

He says the commander is preparing to go to war while the country is preparing for a peaceful election, adding that the commander should not make decisions with a gun.

But the SDL leader and prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has told Fiji TV that he had been briefed about the march and there was no cause for concern.