13 Apr 2007

Fiji Land Force Commander accuses diplomats of inciting mutiny

10:02 am on 13 April 2007

One of Fiji's most senior military officers has accused diplomats from Australia, Britain and the United States of trying to incite a mutiny in the army shortly before the December 5 military takeover.

Col Pita Driti, the commander of Fiji's Land Forces, says diplomats from the three countries approached him and tried to persuade him to overthrow the military commander, Commodore Bainimarama, a few days before the coup.

Commodore Bainimarama was in New Zealand at the time.

Col Driti made the revelation at a farewell parade for over 230 soldiers about to leave for United Nations duty in Iraq.

He said if he ever has the power, he would close the diplomatic missions of the three countries and send their staff home.

Col Driti told the departing troops he was telling them this because Australia and New Zealand have been trying to stop them participating in United Nations peacekeeping duties.

He said he hoped New Zealand and Australia were listening because, as he put it, Australia usually represents New Zealand.