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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Feb. 23) - The merger of two indigenous Fijian political parties is a threat to the long-term stability of the country, the Fiji Military Forces says.

Military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Orisi Rabukawaqa was referring to the merger of the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua and the Conservative Alliance Matanitu Vanua parties last week.

He said the merger confirmed concerns that Royal Fiji Military Forces had about selfish political tactics since 2000.

He said there were elements that would stop at nothing to see their personal political ambitions come to fruition.

"Yet they wish to continue to keep the masses in abject poverty so that they can be beguiled by the continued lie of foreigners wanting to take their land from them," he said.

Lieutenant-Colonel Rabukawaqa said when nationalism was State-based, like that derived during the South Pacific Games in 2003 and the World Cup Sevens victory last year, it was good.

But he said race-based nationalism bred hatred and instability.

He said, since 1978, soldiers had served in countries broken down by hatred and mayhem.

"It (the military) does not want that to happen to its own people in their own land, and as the institution that is constitutionally tasked with the defense, security and the well being of Fiji and its people, the Royal Fiji Military Forces will continue to raise concerns on matters that impinge on this," he said.

The comments come as senior military officers met over the last two weeks to discuss issues affecting the institution and the country.

He said an important agreement reached was unanimous support for military commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama's stance against coup-related activities, the continued promotion of the ideology of ethno-nationalism, and preparation towards the general elections.

"For too long, the commander has been perceived to be the lone voice of the Royal Fiji Military Forces and the cadre of officers have decided to voice their unity with their commander, particularly in this election year," he said.

February 24, 2006

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