Fiji Army Severs Ties With Namosi Chief

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At issue is conflicted loyalty in political campaigning

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, July 31, 2014) – Fiji’s military force says they are severing all ties with the Tui Namosi and territorial officer, Ratu Suliano Matanitobua, over his comments that the vanua and the people of Namosi take precedence over his military uniform.

Speaking to FijiLive, RFMF chief operations officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Amani Suliano said: "This is from the commander of the Fiji Military himself ... he wants to make it clear to the Tui Namosi that we no longer want to be associated with him, we don’t have to do anything with him anymore, we are severing ties with him."

He said the Tui Namosi should not involve the military in his political campaign.

"He has every right to contest the election. As a territorial officer, he does not need to resign. He only needs to inform us that he wants to contest unless he is a regular officer," Lt-Col Suliano said.

"We are not happy with comments made by the Tui Namosi. He should know that as military officers we also serve the people. In fact he should not involve the military in his political campaign.

"For him to make comments like that is not right. He knows that we also have other officers from Namosi in the military who look up to him not only because of his chiefly status but because he is also a military officer. What he has done, he has put these officers in a situation where they feel confused as to what and who they should stand for. These other officers are also part of the development in Namosi.

The Tui Namosi had said in a statement this week that the vanua and the people of Namosi take precedence over his military uniform.

He also said that he decided on contesting as a SODELPA nominee out of concern to uphold and protect indigenous Fijian rights and resources.

"My role as Tui Namosi is one I am born into and I was bred to lead my people and thus I must exercise wisdom and determination to protect the interests of my people. That comes first to me over the army national uniform," Ratu Suliano said.

"At the end of the day, I will be held accountable and will go down in the history books of my people. What that history will be, will be dependent on the choices I make for my people and the protection and preservation of what belongs to us and to our future generations."

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