FIJI ARMY ASSURANCES OFFER LITTLE COMFORT

Editorial

Fiji Sun

SUVA, Fiji (Nov. 7) – It is extremely difficult not to have sympathy for the view of Fiji Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes when he says the army's assurance that there will be no coup is not matched by its actions. There will be no coup - but you'd better get out of our way because we're taking our ammunition whether you like it or not. There will be no coup - but those Bills we don't like must be completely withdrawn and not just amended.

There will be no coup - but we demand to know what overseas security personnel are doing here and what they brought with them. There will be no coup - but the Government has to resign. And nor is the no coup assurance matched by the military's logic, at least as it is publicly proclaimed. The army has neither plan nor desire to run the country - but the Government has to go. And if it refuses to go, the army has made no decision on what it will do.

None of this adds up to an ounce of common sense. Commodore Bainimarama knows full well that the Government will not step down just because he says it must. There is only one way he can make that happen and he, the Government, the army and the country all know it. Of course it is in his interest not to say when or even if a coup will take place - it stands to reason that he would wish to keep everyone guessing.

But now the military seems to be focusing away from Prime Minister Qarase and more on Police Commissioner Hughes. It knew its action in removing the container of ammunition from the wharf despite assurances to the contrary would be guaranteed to elicit a strong response from the commissioner.

Why the army would want to quite deliberately pick a fight with the commissioner is still unclear - but there will be a reason for this. But when all the maneuvering, sabre rattling, threats and counter threats are over and done with, and if, heaven forbid, the commander makes good his threat to remove the Government, he would still have to turn the nation over to civilian rule.

The army is equipped for many roles but running a government is not one of them. So, presumably, in the event of such a folly, the commander would install an interim regime, much as he did in 2000 and tell it to prepare fresh elections. But one wonders if the military has a plan should - as is entirely possible - that election be won by the SDL party under Laisenia Qarase.

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