Pacific Media Watch

3 August 2015

FIJI: Military commander Tikoitoga steps aside for navy man

Hero image
Former commander of the RFMF Mosese Tikoitoga gives a press conference announcing his resignation. Image: Department of Information, Fijian Government.

Vuniwaqa Bola-Bari
SUVA (The Fiji Times/ Pacific Media Watch): Commodore Viliame Naupoto is now the new commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.

The announcement comes after military commander Brigadier-General Mosese Tikoitoga resigned from the position, after only 18 months in the job.

After being appointed as commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) by the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama before the general election last year, Tikoitoga has called it a day.

A statement from the army, via the Information Department, said Tikoitoga resigned so he could pursue a career in the foreign service.

With Tikoitoga leaving, a former sports minister in the interim government, then Captain Viliame Naupoto, has been appointed to act in the position.

Naupoto was recommended by the chairman of the Constitutional Offices Commission (COC), Bainimarama, and was later appointed by President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau to be acting commander with immediate effect.

He has also been promoted to the rank of commodore.

Former positions
Naupoto was a former commander of the Fijian Navy as well as a former Fiji director of Immigration before he took up the post of Agriculture Minister.

He also contested the September 2014 general election where he missed out and was later reinstated at the RFMF earlier this year as the chief-of-staff.

He replaced Brigadier Mohammed Aziz as chief and now is the acting commander.

Brigadier Aziz, who has been currently on leave for about five months now, still holds the position of deputy military commander.

The Fiji Times has also reported that Naupoto told stakeholders at a recent security symposium that the army is trying to clear misperceptions, and he has therefore been tasked with changing mindsets as military commander.

He also met with Tikoitoga at the conference and told him: "You know you are no longer untouchable, get out from there, you don't run them."

Naupoto said he was ready to take on the job after attending Sunday service at the Stanley Brown base (Suva) with Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

Changing attitudes
But Naupoto said changing the attitudes and perceptions of military people will take "a bit of time".

"I'm not too sure what's going to happen after that but I look forward to the job even if it becomes substantive. It's a challenge that I will take up and give it my best shot," he said.

The navy man said he was honoured to be given the position.

"It's challenge but I'm looking forward to it.

"I thought I was just going to come back to RFMF because there is a little vacuum that exists within RFMF because of the senior officers who had gone out, so I came in to help."

Commander Naupoto also spoke about the need to create an environment in Fiji where the thought and mention of a future coup will be out of place.

Not expected
"But definitely I was not expecting this," he said.

"I was just thinking of just coming in to do my bit but I am honoured to be chosen and I look forward to the work."

Naupoto said he did not foresee any problems or difficulties in him doing the job with the rest of his officers because the army was intact.

"We have a job to do.

"For the first time the role of the RFMF is there in the Constitution," he said.

View Tikoitoga's resignation

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Pacific Media Watch

PMC's media monitoring service

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