20 Nov 2006

Failed bid to sack Fiji military commander root of latest crisis - claim

5:13 pm on 20 November 2006

An advisor to Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs and provincial council chairman says relations between the military and government worsened after the prime minister's failed attempt to have the military commander replaced.

Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo has told Radio Legend that Laisenia Qarase and President Iloilo underestimated the unity in the military when they tried to appoint Col Meli Saubulinayau to replace Commodore Bainimarama.

Ratu Josateki says it seems the government did not do its homework to assess the support Commodore Bainimarama has within the military.

He says what happened that day could be described as a palace coup which threw out constitutional authority and government" because the president issued an order and was then forced to withdraw it.

Ratu Josateki has also called on government MPs to stop agitating the military commander as the military is the institution that has the guns in the country.

His caution follows a speech in parliament by the minister of state for provincial development, Ted Young, who described Commodore Bainimarama as a terrorist and said the monster's head should be cut off.

Commodore Bainimarama is reported to have responded by saying the government should be very careful of what they say and should not be pointing their finger at the military.

He said Mr Young was making such comments because he was one of the terrorists supporting the 2000 coup in parliament and was speaking for his master, George Speight.