30 Oct 2006

Fiji police refuse to release shipment of ammunition to army

11:57 am on 30 October 2006

Fiji's police commissioner has refused to release a container of live ammunition which has arrived in the country saying he is not convinced that it won't be used to overthrow the government.

The Fiji Times reports Andrew Hughes has confirmed that seven and a half tonnes of bullets for M-16 automatic rifles arrived in Suva from Korea yesterday.

But as the police agent that signs off on such licensed imports, Mr Hughes says he has refused to release it, saying he deems it irresponsible to do so in the current circumstances when the military has called on the government to resign.

Mr Hughes says it is up to the military to provide assurances that the ammunition will not be used to remove the government.

But the acting military commander, navy Captain Esala Teleni, says the bullets are for training purposes and have no bearing on recent military threats against the government.

Captain Teleni says he is disappointed Mr Hughes has acted in an unprofessional manner but ruled out any suggestions that the military would forcibly remove the ammunition from Suva wharf.

He says the police should think again because the military already has sufficient ammunition in stock if it wishes to remove the government.