20 Jan 2004

Fiji on national security alert amid report of military rift

8:18 am on 20 January 2004

A national security alert has been heightened in Fiji following intelligence reports suggesting a possible destabilisation of the country from within the military.

The Daily Post says this follows a meeting of senior officers from the security forces yesterday.

The newspaper says military and police intelligence reports have uncovered information that a rift is widening within the army over the commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama's contract which expires in March.

It says the intelligence indicates that Commodore Bainimarama enjoys the support of 90 percent of the military but it is the remaining ten percent that is believed to be inciting trouble.

The army spokesman, Warrant Officer Neumi Leweni, has confirmed that military intelligence is keeping its ears close to the ground, but says he is unable to discuss the information they are receiving.

But military and police intelligence officers are monitoring the movements of certain people and analysing pocket meetings being held around the country.

Tension has gone up in the last few days after Commodore Bainimarama issue a directive to some senior officers at the army's Strategic Headquarters to go on leave after they pledged loyalty to the army as an institution and not to him personally.