New Fiji commander's background bodes well for Fiji
New Fiji military commander bodes well for country but questions remain.
A former senior Fiji military officer Jone Baledrokadroka says the background of Fiji's new military commander bodes well for the country.
But the former land force commander says it is another question whether the military has been depoliticised by the regime leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama giving up his command.
Mr Baledrokadroka says he worked with Brigadier-General Mosese Tikoitoga, who he knows as "Mo", very early on in their careers.
JONE BALEDROKADROKA: Mosese Tikoitoga - he has made it quite plain that he is there to uphold the constitution and, you know, whoever actually wins the election, he will actually stand by the government of the day. The problem is that the constitution, if you look into the constitution, it has a role for the military to intervene into politics. I think there is a clause there that actually gives the military the right to, quote, be the protector of the people, now this is the problem with the military. Anyone who knows anything about constitutional law can tell you that there is a loophole in that clause that may allow the military to step right back in if it doesn't like the government that has taken over after the election.
SALLY ROUND: Do you think that Bainimarama will be in the background there pulling strings, still having that influence?
JB: Well, you see, I knew Mo very well, in fact we served together back in 1982 in the Sinai when he was a private and I was a lieutenant in one of the platoons. All throughout his career I have known him to champion professionalism and the military being apolitical. So, it came as quite a surprise to me that Mo has chosen to in fact follow Bainimarama and take the military down the path it has the last 10 years or so. I am hoping that Mo in fact now realises the damage that he and others like him following Bainimarama has done to the military profession. You know, try and steer away from politics and go back to where I think the military should always remain and that is outside politics.
SR: So do you think this is a good choice?
JB: The other sort of candidates that were rumoured, this was the best of the lot that could have taken the post as commander. In that Mo has more of a military background, he is from the army, from the infantry, so that will augur well as far as gaining a lot of support from within Fiji military. As you know, the Fiji military is about 90 percent infantry so in that sense it will be okay and also from an international sense, I suppose. See Mo has done a lot of his training in Australia... He has also graduated from the Indian defence college so that augurs well. I think his mentality is firmly embedded into the apoliticalness of the military and so I hope that he brings that sort of training to bear on the future of Fiji's politics.
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