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Last Updated: Friday, 11 February, 2005, 11:04 GMT
Fiji army withdraws PM's security
The Fijian military has withdrawn the security detail it had been providing for Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.

The recall was needed to save money, a spokesman said. Recently the army was heavily fined for overspending.

The prime minister's spokesman described the removal of Mr Qarase's bodyguards as "discourteous".

Relations between the government and the army have been strained recently due to the release of several key supporters of a coup in 2000.

The army played a central role in ending the coup - led by nationalist George Speight - and has openly expressed its anger at Mr Qarase's perceived support for the instigators.

It was particularly angered by the release in November of disgraced vice president Ratu Jope Seniloli.

Mr Seniloli served just three months of a four-year jail term.

A letter sent by the military to Mr Qarase's office, and published in Fiji's newspapers on Friday, said the prime minister's private security detail was being cancelled in order to save money.

The finance ministry recently ordered army chief Frank Bainimarama to pay a $2m surcharge for overspending his 2004 budget.

The prime minister's chief of staff, Jioji Kotobalavu, told the French news agency AFP that while Mr Qarase understood the army commander's frustrations, his attitude toward the prime minister had been "discourteous".

A senior police officer told the Fiji Times that the police were ready to provide the prime minister's security detail instead.

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06 Aug 04 |  Asia-Pacific
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05 Aug 04 |  Asia-Pacific
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03 Sep 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Fiji
24 May 03 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Fiji
10 Mar 03 |  Country profiles

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