Fiji military chief concerned over new PM’s ‘sweeping changes’

Fiji’s military chief has complained over the “ambition and speed” of changes undertaken by the government of new Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, stirring anxiety in the Pacific nation where security forces have staged four coups in 35 years.

The statement from Major-General Jone Kalouniwai on Tuesday drew an immediate rebuke from Rabuka’s cabinet, with Home Affairs Minister Pio Tikoduadua summoning the military chief to communicate the government’s concerns.

“The commander has assured that today will be the last day that he will be making such a public utterances as that,” Tikoduadua told reporters afterwards.

Kalouniwai also spoke with reporters later, saying the military would continue to “honour the current government that is in place”.

Fiji has a history of military coups, including two staged by current Prime Minister Rabuka in 1987.

Rabuka became prime minister on December 24 after a coalition of parties narrowly voted to install him as leader of the Pacific nation. His election victory ended the 16-year rule of former military chief Frank Bainimarama.



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