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Fiji military has become part of political landscape in Fiji

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, February 12, 2009) – The former commander of the Fiji military land force says the military will remain part of Fiji’s political landscape even after they return to the barracks.

"It seems the model they are trying to use is to have permanent influence on politics," Lieutenant Colonel Jone Baledrokadroka said in an exclusive interview with Fijilive.

Baledrokadroka should know since he was second-in-command to Fiji military leader Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama only months before the military overthrew the Laisenia Qarase-led Government.

Bainimarama announced on January 13, 2006 that he had dismissed Baledrokadroka for insubordination.

Baledrokadroka later said he had confronted Bainimarama about his continued standoff with the Qarase government and had tried to persuade him not to stage a coup.

Today, the former army strongman maintains the military’s place is in the barracks.

"I think that option is a very idealistic one," he said when asked whether the military should return to barracks.

But he said looking at the way things are set up at the moment, "the military exit strategy is based on the implementation of the Charter".

"It seems they’ve set themselves out as some sort of guardian for the Charter. What happens if the Charter is not implemented or not implemented fully according to their wishes?

"So it seems that the military will be part of our political landscape for some time."

He added that Government had been militarized at all levels, from ministerial down to the permanent secretaries and even in all departments.

"They’ve put people all over Government. Now they’re talking about municipal councils. So it seems they have a plan to be in power," he said.

Meanwhile, earlier this week Bainimarama told the Vice President of the Republic of China Xi Jinping, during their meeting in Nadi, that he did not overthrow the Qarase government two years ago to seize power and remain in control.

Instead, he said, that the military will only stay in power until all its objectives are achieved.

"The military, essentially assumed control of the Government with clear objectives to eliminate corruption, racial discrimination policies and practices, and to bring about necessary reforms in the area of public service, governance as well as the electoral system in an effort to build a better and more progressive Fiji," he said.

"The military did not intervene for the purpose of remaining in control and power beyond a reasonable time than what would be required to achieve the above objectives."


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