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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Fiji's ex-army chief charged with mutiny

The military has Col Jone Baledrokadroka with inciting mutiny and disobedience and insubordination.

india Updated: May 31, 2006 12:48 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press

Fiji's former army chief, accused of urging the armed forces commander to resign and later threatening to kill him, has been charged with inciting mutiny, a news report said on Wednesday.

The military charged Col Jone Baledrokadroka late on Tuesday with inciting mutiny and disobedience and insubordination, a military lawyer told the Pacnews news service.

The agency said the lawyer spoke on strict condition that he not be named.

There was no immediate comment from Fiji's armed forces.

Commodore Frank Bainimarama, Fiji's armed forces chief, has claimed that Baledrokadroka plotted to remove him and two senior officers in January.

Bainimarama has said that on January 12, Baledrokadroka -- the then-commander of land forces -- confronted him and urged him to resign.

A few days after the incident, Bainimarama claimed Baledrokadroka had also threatened to kill him.

Baledrokadroka contends he was merely trying to prevent the outspoken military chief -- who had threatened to remove Fiji's elected nationalist government -- from committing treason. Bainimarama later instructed Baledrokadroka to resign his army commission.

The lawyer told Pacnews that a senior army officer would evaluate the evidence before deciding if a court martial would proceed.

Bainimarama has been a constant critic of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, who was re-elected to head a new government earlier this month.

Qarase recently said a priority for his government was to curb the political role of the armed forces commander and that he would seek a "proper interpretation" from the Supreme Court on the constitutional role of the military.

The move could put Qarase's new nationalist-dominated government back on a collision course with the armed forces after 18 months of public rowing with Bainimarama, who has accused the government of racism and favouring indigenous Fijians ahead of other citizens.

Bainimarama survived an assassination attempt during a mutiny in November 2000, four months after he quashed a coup led by indigenous Fijian nationalist George Speight.

He later oversaw Fiji's return to democratic government.

First Published: May 31, 2006 12:48 IST