Fiji Military Told To Review Role In State System
text of speech:
By Joycelyn Narayan: August 15, 2001 Wansolwara Online (USP)
SUVA (Pasifik Nius): The Fiji Military Forces must reevaluate its role in the state system after the confusion and lack of resolve in the wake of last year's attempted coup.
This was the message tonight from a Fijian high chief and former High Court judge, Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi.
Speaking at a public lecture entitled "Fiji's 2001 Elections: Fiji at the Crossroads", Ratu Joni said that coup leader George Speight and his allies had "miscalculated" the support the military would provide.
Although the military had supported the 1987 coup, it was divided during the May 2000 upheaval.
"In May 2000, elements in the military adopted an interventionist approach, some played both sides and others were neutral. The result was confusion and a lack of resolve," he said.
Ratu Joni also pointed out contradictory moves made by the military during the May crisis last year.
"They abrogated the Constitution on 29 May 2000 and removed the President.
"Yet they also arrested Speight and his cohorts after waiting out a hostage crisis involving the elected prime minister and cabinet," said Ratu Joni.
He said that the military had divided loyalties.
"Their loyalties, such as they are, have been to the Bose Levu Vakaturaga, the President and to the state in varying degrees, and in that order."
Ratu Joni said that instead of regarding itself as an instrument of the state, the military regarded itself as a Fijian institution.
However, Captain Ned Taito of the FMF told Wansolwara Online that the military saw itself as an institution dedicated to the needs of the state.
Capt Taito said the military had taken care of all "problem elements" within its ranks and the officers understood that they served the military as an institution and had pledged allegiance to serve within the guidelines set by the military.
Ratu Joni said he believed the military had failed to take a more proactive role in safeguarding democracy.
"I think the military needs to stop seeing itself as a Fijian institution and play a more active role in safeguarding the interest of the state."
* The Fiji election is from August 25 to September 1.
* Full text of Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi's speech: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/docs/news/wansolnews/wansol1508013.html