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Bishop hails army chief

Nasik Swami
Saturday, March 08, 2014

THE appointment of a new Republic of Fiji Military Forces Commander is a positive development in Fiji's return to parliamentary democracy.

That is the sentiment of Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop who hailed the handover from Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama to Brigadier General Mosese Tikoitoga as a milestone for democracy.

"We see it as an important milestone and we have also congratulated the Prime Minister on this move and we do take it at face value that there has been a changing of the guard, a handover of the command of the Fijian military," Ms Bishop told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat.

Ms Bishop said the Australian Government was reviewing travel bans and other sanctions placed on Fiji.

"Already we're discussing with the Fijian Government the prospects of returning our defence attache, normalising defence arrangements and the twinning of public sector staff," she said.

In his speech at the handover ceremony, Brig-Gen Tikoitoga assured the nation the role of RFMF was to act in the interests of all Fijians.

"And we intend to uphold our constitutional duty to be independent, be above politics and respect the will of the people."

Commodore Bainimarama stepped down from his military post to focus on campaigning ahead of this year's election.

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