SUVA, Fiji (Feb. 15) – Nobody likes to see Fiji’s military and government officials at loggerheads. The civilian population, given Fiji’s recent history, instinctively fears the worst at times such as these. And the dispute has outlasted at least one government minister, several top civil servants and a number of very senior military personnel. It has gone on for too long.

The bad blood appears to stem from the determination of the army commander. Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama to ensure that all those involved in the May 2000 crisis and its aftermath – including the mutiny and the attempt on his life – are brought to account for their actions. The Government, on the other hand, wants to confine the past to history and move on.

But surely both parties should get on with their own jobs and leave the task of bringing criminals to justice where it belongs – with the police force. Anyone involved in the 2000 disasters cannot expect to escape the long arm of the law and the Government as well as the military must know this. Or is there something more, something hidden, that is the real bone of contention between the army and the Government?

At the moment, we can but guess. But what we can be certain of is that the longer the bickering continues, the more insecure the population will feel. Now the private sector has voiced its concern that the long-running dispute is damaging business confidence and possibly Fiji’s reputation as a safe and stable investment destination.

This is a voice that should be listened to. It is a voice that is telling the nation that it needs to get its act together and start behaving like a mature world citizen rather than a collection of tribes warring over influence turf. The next general election is perhaps a year away and Fiji does not need to enter that sensitive period with a government and military at each other’s throats.

This will tend only to restore instability - something that both sides would surely agree can only cause damage to the nation as a whole. So the Government and the army need to bury the hatchet. If their competing agendas, policies and egos cannot allow them to do so it is Fiji that will pay the price.

February 16, 2005


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