17 Jan 2004

Split reported among senior Fiji army officers

6:12 am on 17 January 2004

A report from Fiji says there is a split among senior army officers over a directive from the commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, to pledge loyalty to his continued leadership of the military.

Radio Fiji says a group of officers has been told to go on leave after they pledged their loyalty to the army as an institution, and not to the commander personally.

The radio also says a high-ranking army officer has written to the president and commander-in-chief of the army reporting the development, which appears linked to the imminent end of the commander's term.

It has been widely reported that the government will not renew the term of Commodore Bainimarama who has publicly expressed concern that the perpetrators of the May 2000 coup and army mutinies will not be brought to justice.

Radio Fiji says it has also established that senior officers of the army's strategic headquarters including its head, Colonel Ratu George Kadavulevu, are among those directed to go on leave.