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By Ana Tudrau

SUVA, Fiji (FijiSUN, Jan. 21) - Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase has warned senior military and ministry officials to stop expressing opposing views in public.

In a national televised address last night, Qarase assured the nation there was no disharmony between his government and the army. He reminded those concerned that the Ministry of Home Affairs and the army were both part of the executive administration of the country.

"They are there to serve the nation through the elected government of the day," the prime minister said. "It is not for them to engage in a public row because they disagree on certain things or have personal differences."

The law governing the appointment of the army commander was very clear, he said.

"His Excellency, the President, makes the appointment, acting on the advice of the Minister for Home Affairs," Mr Qarase said. "That is laid down in the Constitution and it is the process that will be followed. It will be done in a proper manner and there is no need for unnecessary and damaging speculation."

He also refuted a newspaper report about a security alert, saying there was no such thing.

Mr Qarase chaired a National Security Council meeting yesterday following a meeting with Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes.

Commenting on reports that senior officers within the army had been sent on leave, Mr Qarase said the commander had full powers to deal with those under his command.

The Constitution gives the commander the responsibility for appointing members of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, taking disciplinary action against them and removing them, he said.

January 21, 2004



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