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SUVA, Fiji (April 23, 1998 - Daily Post/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)--- Former Fiji army commander Brigadier Ratu Epeli Nailatikau has been contracted to oversee a smooth transition of military rule on Bougainville to a civilian government, the Daily Post reports.

A cabinet source said Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka had made the recommendation, which was endorsed at Tuesday's cabinet meeting.

Brigadier Ratu Epeli, who was the former Ambassador to the United Kingdom, returned to Fiji where he continued working for the army.

He was appointed in charge of a court martial into allegations of liquor smuggling by Fiji soldiers in the Middle East.

Efforts to get a comment from the Fiji Military forces failed yesterday.

Brig. Ratu Epeli is visiting Fiji troops in the Middle East, an army source revealed.

The Papua New Guinea government and Fiji government have been holding talks on a government-to-government basis.

Fiji's joining the Melanesian Spearhead Group has brought relations closer.

Deputy Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs Colonel Savenaca Draunidalo had led a multi-regional peacekeeping force to Bougainville in 1994.

Meanwhile, the cease-fire agreement on Bougainville will go ahead on April 30 as scheduled despite opposition from rebel leader Francis Ona, says New Zealand's Foreign Minister Don McKinnon.

Title -- 1308 BOUGAINVILLE: Former Fiji military chief to head security Date -- 23 April 1998 Byline – None Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- Daily Post (Fiji), 23/4/98 Copyright -- Daily Post Status – Unabridged

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