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Get Rid Of Army Rebels: Labour

USP Pacific Journalism Online: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/
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SUVA (Pasifik Nius): Rebel forces within Fiji army ranks will be weeded out if the Fiji Labour Party regains power next month, reports the Daily Post.

Promising this as part of its manifesto, the party also said that the November 2 mutiny last year was a clear indication that the army was split and its loyalty to the elected government could not be guaranteed.

The FLP said the involvement and support of the army in usurping the mandate of the people had become a serious disquiet.

[Coup leader] George Speight's attempt to take over government failed, according to the FLP. But the army completed the process put in place by Speight, making sure it appointed people to run the government after abrogating the 1997 constitution and forcing out of office the constitutionally appointed President, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara.

The FLP said the army abrogated the constitution and imposed an illegal regime on the people, using the breakdown in law and order as an excuse for doing so.

The manifesto said steps would also be taken to boost morale in the police force as it was low and its administration and operational efficiency were seriously hampered by poor leadership and an archaic organisational structure.

The FLP said senior officers themselves had blamed ineffective and unethical leadership at the top for the humiliation and embarrassment the force suffered during the months of unrest.

Since criminal activities have escalated in Fiji, the FLP has vowed that the fight against crime would be top priority.

Meanwhile, the Fiji police have threatened to withdraw security for the general election because they still have not been allocated additional funds, according to the Daily Post.

Director Commercial Crime Jahir Khan said that it was sad that the police force had to reach such a verdict as it could not afford to "make its officers slaves anymore".

The Daily Post reported that police had asked the Ministry of Finance for additional funds, but had not received any word yet.

Supervisor of Elections Walter Rigamoto could not be reached for comment yesterday, but last week he had confirmed that government had approved $1.7 million for the police to provide security during the election.

* The general election is from August 25-September 1.

+++niuswire

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