Fiji Time: 10:35 AM on Wednesday 7 October

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20th commander

Tevita Vuibau
Wednesday, March 05, 2014

MUCH will be made of the pomp and ceremony that will accompany today's military commander handover.

But when Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga is announced as Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama's successor — the army will follow to the letter a succession of procedures steeped deep in Fijian military tradition.

From the towing out of the former commander to the handover of the tabua signifying leadership of the military — each detail will be meticulously planned and executed by the armed forces.

Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga is the 20th Commander of the RFMF and the ninth since independence.

He follows in the distinguished steps of former commanders, including President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, former then Great Council of Chiefs chairman Ratu Epeli Ganilau, and the first Fijian to hold the post, Sandhurst graduate Colonel Paul Manueli.

Colonel Tikoitoga also succeeds the longest serving commander of the RFMF — Commodore Bainimarama — who has held the post since 1999.

Chief military operations officer Lieutenant Colonel Amani Suliano explained Colonel Tikoitoga would be announced as Commodore Bainimarama's successor in a church service at QEB this morning.

But his appointment will not be official then.

"After the church service, we will move up to the top ground where the traditional veiqaravi vakavanua will be accorded and it will start off with the handing over of the commander's whale's tooth.

"The outgoing commander will hand over the whale's tooth to the new commander.

"Once that is done, the new commander is there."

He said the full traditional veiqaravi vakavanua would then be accorded to welcome the new commander.

Lt-Col Suliano said one of the most emotional aspects of the handover would follow later in the day as Commodore Bainimarama is towed out of QEB by his officers.

"The former commander will be towed by his officers from the other ranks mess, right to the main gate.

"It is a very emotional event, first of all that vehicle he will be on will be equipped with infantry and naval equipment.

"And the band will play as the officers will lift and tow him out."

Lt-Col Suliano said the church service would be attended by members of the territorial forces and all military officers seconded to government.

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