FIJI ON BRINK OF VIOLENCE

Editorial

Fiji Times

SUVA, Fiji (Nov. 26) - Enough is enough. This war between the Government and the Commander of the Fiji Military Forces has gone on long enough. In fact, it has been allowed to go on for far too long.

As for the Great Council of Chiefs, what hope or progress can it possibly bring to the issue that will force the commander to step in line?

The very fact that he snubbed the chiefs' taskforce committee and relegated the task of meeting them to other officers speaks volumes of his opinion of their role in this mess.

And if he is unwilling to meet chiefs on this issue, what guarantee is there that he will accept the verdict of the Supreme Court when it decides on the role and responsibilities of the commander of the RFMF.

Sadly, the victims in all of this are and will be the people of Fiji. They will suffer the full consequences of the clash between our leaders. They will be the ones to lose their jobs if hotels and tourism-related businesses remain half empty.

It is the innocent salespeople who will suffer when their employer lays them off because business is bad.

It is the innocent labourer who will suffer when he cannot find work because companies are investing and are not expanding.

It is the innocent small business retailer who will have to shut down because customers are not buying his products. It is the innocent who always suffer in the end. History has proven that time and time again.

It appears that the Government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase will not give in to the commander's non-negotiable demands.

On the other hand, the commander, incensed by the Government's attempt to replace him when he was overseas, is making threats, ordering people to pack and leave town and is promising a "clean up campaign".

In the meantime, while the rank and file appear to remain loyal to the commander, senior officers who have dared to voice their opinions have been removed while others have quietly left the military for jobs overseas.

Both sides have wronged each other but this fight must end soon or violence will erupt. It has been five months since the general elections and we have not moved forward.

Something or someone must give and soon. In the meantime, comments about chopping off the monster's head don't help. They are machoistic and only add fuel to the out-of-control fire.

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