5 Mar 2014

NZ welcomes Fiji Prime Minister handing over military position

11:26 pm on 5 March 2014

New Zealand has welcomed the handover of military power by the Fijian regime, with the foreign minister calling it a step towards democracy.

Brigadier-General Mosese Tikoitoga has been promoted to head the Republic of Fiji Military Forces to replace Commodore Frank Bainimarama, who has stepped down to contest the elections.

Murray McCully says at the end of the day Fiji has to take its own decisions but New Zealand regards the move as significant.

"I think it's a key milestone on the way towards the holding of free and fair elections in Fiji. Separating the military from the government processes is a key development that needs to take place in Fiji and the decision that's been made today is therefore very very welcome indeed."

Murray McCully says he hopes Mosese Tikoitonga will maintain good standards as the process of separating the military and government takes place.

Australia's foreign minister Julie Bishop also welcomed the move, saying it's the latest in a series of positive developments in Fiji.