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Tarakinikini Quits Army

USP Pacific Journalism Online: Wansolwara Online (USP):

SUVA (Pasifik Nius): Popular Fiji Military Forces officer Lieutenant-Colonel Filipo Tarakinikini - a key figure during the May 2000 coup crisis - has quit the army in a shock move, the Fiji Sun reports.

The commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, yesterday confirmed he had received Lt Col Tarakinikini's letter of resignation, with effect from March 21.

In his letter, Lt Col Tarakinikini said that "after careful considerations of my future with the RFMF and that of my family, it is with a sense of melancholy that I tender my resignation from the Fiji Military Forces".

The letter also confirms "bad vibes" between the two officers, stemming from the days after the 19 May 2000 attempted coup by George Speight when Commodore Bainimarama relieved Tarakinikini of the position of official army spokesman.

"After our telephone conversation a few weeks ago you categorically stated that a full public commission of inquiry into the RFMF and its failures before and during the May 2000 coup is irrelevant," Lt Col Tarakinikini said.

"It appears to me therefore that your agenda against me is a personal one and that the investigation presently conducted in RFMF by you is a discriminatory and selective means to frame and purge those professional officers, including myself, who question your command ethics.

"The Regimental Fund that you are refusing to allow the Auditor General to look into is an example."

Tarakinikini's departure clears the way for the highly qualified officer to pursue a career with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations of the United Nations in New York.

He currently works there as Senior Planning Officer and was on secondment from the Fiji military for a period of one year.

The first year was supposed to have ended by the end of the month.

Lt Col Tarakinikini graduated at the top of his class after attending the Officer Cadet Training Unit at Waiouru, New Zealand, in 1979.

Some weeks later he was selected to be the RFMF candidate to the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst in the United Kingdom.

* The Fiji Sun did not publish comment from the military but said in an editorial: "Although being of commander material, there was little chance of him ascending to that high office given the cold relationship he has had with the incumbent."


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