18 Nov 2003

Fiji military says it will defy government over budget allocation

9:32 am on 18 November 2003

Fiji's military is set to defy the government on its budget allocation for next year.

The Finance Minister, Ratu Jone Kubuabola, has cut the military budget by one point three million US dollars to 24 point four million dollars.

The Minister said this will mean that the military will have to reduce its regular troops by over 250.

But the government has made no provision for a redundancy payment.

The military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, has told Fiji TV that there is no way he is going to demobilise regular soldiers unless they are paid redundancy.

Commodore Bainimarama says the days when troops were just sent off without compensation are gone.

Earlier, the military chief said the cut in the budget was a move to weaken the army and reflected the strained relationship between the military and Ministry of Home Affairs.

The military commander had called for the removal of the Secretary for Home Affairs, Colonel Jeremaia Waqanisau.