FIJI MILITARY BRISTLES AT ARRIVAL OF AUSSIE POLICE

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SYDNEY, Australia (ABC News Online, Nov. 5) – Fiji's military high command has accused Australia of hegemony and trying to shove big brother policies down Fiji's throat.

It says the secretive arrival in Fiji on Friday of a number of Australians - variously described as police and mercenaries - was a breach of the country's sovereignty.

The accusation came in a briefing by the commander of Fiji's Land Force, Colonel Pita Driti, following a meeting of senior military officers.

The meeting included the chief of the military Commodore Frank Bainimanara, who returned from overseas yesterday.

"[It was] a gross breach of sovereignty and independence with the arrival on board of an Air Pacific flight FJ-910 from Sydney last Friday of Australian nationals," Colonel Driti said.

He also says the Australians brought with them a number of secure silver boxes weighing more than 400 kilograms which he believes contained weapons.

He refused to specify exactly who the Australians were or how many of them had arrived, but described them as mercenaries and later as Australian police.

"I would like to remind the public that this is a repetition of events that took place in Papua New Guinea a few years ago - known as the Sandline episode," he said.

In the Sandline Affair, the PNG government attempted to use mercenaries to solve the Bougainville Crisis.

Colonel Driti says the arrival of the Australians and a group of New Zealand police was a severe breach of Fiji's sovereignty by Fiji's Australian Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes.

He says the military will act to stop any foreign intervention in Fiji's affairs and went on to attack Australia's foreign policy in the Pacific.

"Sheer ignorance, or hegemonic shoving of big brother policies down our throats," he said.

But an Australian Federal Police (AFP) spokesman denies any federal police have travelled to Fiji and the allegations are baseless.

He says there are a few AFP officers already stationed there as part of normal operations.

The Defence Department in Canberra says it is most likely the men described by Colonel Driti are Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel.

It says it is standard procedure for supplementary staff to be assigned to Australian diplomatic missions during periods of uncertainty.

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