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Military Condemn 'Lack Of Respect' By US Envoy

USP Pasifik Nius: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/nius/index.html USP Pasifik Nius stories on Scoop (NZ): http://www.scoop.co.nz/international.htm Have your say: http://www.TheGuestBook.com/vgbook/109497.gbook

MILITARY CONDEMN 'LACK OF RESPECT' BY US ENVOY http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/docs/news/wansolnews/wansol2708014.html

By TOMASI RAIYAWA: August 27, 2001 Wansolwara Online (USP)

SUVA (Pasifik Nius): The Fiji military tonight condemned a US congressman's "blatant oversight" over Fiji sovereignty by calling for overseas military intervention in the country if needed.

Spokesman Captain Ned Taito told Wansolwara Online that Congressman Eni Faleomavaega's comments showed a "lack of understanding and belittles the past sacrifices that Fiji servicemen and women have made" in support of peace.

The Fiji military had ensured the maintenance of a peaceful and stable environment in Fiji, Capt Taito said in a statement.

It was also committed to "allowing the public to enjoy their democratic right to participate in free and fair elections".

Faleomavaega, an American Samoan, was quoted by the Daily Post today, saying that if the Fiji military failed to support the new democratically elected government after this week's ballot, the new government should not hesitate to seek support from the United States.

He said the US, Australia and New Zealand should intervene militarily to prop up the new government if such a need arose.

"The military in any country can play a very positive role in nation-building. But it can also turn around and become very destructive," Faleomavaega said.

He said the coups in 1997 and 2000 had done untold damage to Fiji and any attempt to stage another coup would be disastrous for Fiji.

The comments by Faleomavaega, who came to Fiji as an observer, come amid elections in Fiji to restore democracy following last year's attempted coup by failed businessman George Speight and a handful of rebel soldiers.

They overthrew the government of then Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry because he was an ethnic Indian.

Chaudhry's Labour Party is again tipped to win the most seats in the 71-seat House and form a multiparty government.

Indigenous Fijian nationalists have warned of violence if Chaudhry is returned as prime minister.

Faleomavaega said the army made up of 98 percent indigenous Fijians, faces a loyalty and commitment test when the new government comes into power.

He said that while he was optimistic about the army's capability in handling any upheaval in Fiji, the new government should have the option of outside military intervention.

Faleomavaega added that while it was not the intention of the US to interfere with another country's internal affairs, it could intervene if those in power were not secure and requested assistance, or if the army was "helpless".

The US suspended all military aid to Fiji following the May 19 coup.

Faleomavaega said the suspension would remain until the the Fiji military proved its loyalty and commitment to the new government.

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