Fiji army 'locked down' amid rising tensions

Fiji’s army locked down its main barracks and conducted shooting practice today amid rising tensions between the military and the South Pacific country’s nationalist government.

Fiji’s army locked down its main barracks and conducted shooting practice today amid rising tensions between the military and the South Pacific country’s nationalist government.

The move – a possible show of strength – came after military chief Commodore Frank Bainimarama, who for months has been involved in a war of words with the government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, accused police of seeking to downsize the army.

There was no sign of unrest on the streets of the capital, Suva, and the barracks was reopened by the end of the afternoon.

Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes told reporters that Bainimarama’s comments stemmed from a misunderstanding about a government-ordered review of the 3,500-strong Fiji military that has yet to be published.

Hughes said he has a strong relationship with the army chief. “Clearly this is a misunderstanding,” Hughes said.

Fiji in May is due to hold its second democratic election since a 2000 coup toppled the country’s first ethnic Indian-led government.

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