A new commander of Fiji's military appointed
Mosese Tikoitoga will today become the new Fiji military commander, replacing the Commodore Frank Bainimarama.
The Republic of Fiji Military Force's land force commander, Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga, is to become the country's new military commander in a formal televised ceremony today.
The current commander, Frank Bainimarama, is stepping down so he can launch his political party and contest the elections he has promised for September.
Commodore Bainimarama, who took power in a coup in December 2006, has headed the Fiji military for 15 years.
It had been speculated that his brother in law Francis Kean would get the job or the newly promoted Major General Iowane Naivalurua, the former land force commander who became the police commissioner and most recently a diplomat.
But Auckalnd University lecturer in Pacific studies, Dr Steven Ratuva, told Jamie Tahana that he is not surprised at the appointment of Mosese Tikoitoga.
STEVEN RATUVA: I think it was not really surprising because of all the officers at the moment he is probably the most logical choice for the position. He is probably the most senior. He has been land force commander for a number of years now so he is somebody he is reliable and stable and someone Bainimarama can trust in terms of the post election politics.
JAMIE TAHANA: So he'll be very loyal to Frank Bainimarama?
SR: Yeah, he's one of his loyal soldiers. Bainimarama had to make a decision on the basis of loyalty, capability and somebody whom he can trust as well. And I think Mosese Tikoitoga was one of those that stood out amongst the officers.
JT: What will he do now, how will he move the military forward? What kind of leader will he be?
SR: Well, whoever takes over now will have to try and reorientate the military towards moving away from being political. And the military in Fiji has always found itself in a situation where it's being involved in politics and the difficulty in getting away from it. I think one of the things that the new commander will have to do is to try and de-politicise the army as much as possible, and also to re-professionalise the army, as a dual process. And thirdly to try and build up the trust within the military - amongst the officers, and the rank and file. And also to be able to move the military forward to respond effectively to the demands of the state in a more democratic climate which Fiji presumably will have after the election. So the role of the military in the post- coup period and the post-election period would be very different.
JT: Does the military want to de-politicise itself, especially with the close links between them and Frank Bainimarama?
SR: Well, even the politicisation of the military is shaped by a number of factors; one is how external forces outside the military try to influence the military to carry out political activities to serve some political objectives. So it's important that link has to be broken. So if Bainimarama becomes the Prime Minister, then it's important he should relinquish all links with the military. And if he becomes the Prime Minister for instance then he should remain a civilian Prime Minister and not have any direct influence whatsoever in terms of influence on the military, and allow the military to become an autonomous, professional institution to carry out its duties as required by the legislation.
JT: And do you think Tikoitoga has the strength or the willpower to do that?
SR: Well, hopefully he will and that's what the people of Fiji are probably hoping for as well in terms of making sure the new commander will have the tenacity and the courage to be able to maintain a sense of independence and durability even in times of crisis and not move away from his professional role and institution.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: