back to news archives for 18-31 August, 2000
USP Journalism Programme

Law and order cost $2m, says army

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The military has spent over $2 million in its efforts
to maintain law and order since the May 19 coup said army spokesman
Lietenant Alipate Mataitini. But, Lt. Mataitini, the military still needed
funds to carry on the security work.
"The bill continues to rise daily as this money was
used from here and there." Lieutenant Mataitini said they are fast running
out of money and are awaiting word from the Home Affairs ministry to
approach the Finance ministry for a boost to their budget. However
Lieutenant Mataitini said their priority right now was to provide law and
order in the country.
The military took charge of the country on May 28 as
the country went under martial rule. The decision to hand over operations
to the army stemmed from a shooting incident on a
Sunday night in which rebel leader George Speight's civilian supporters shot
dead an on-duty policeman.
Also a territorial soldier died after he suffered a
heart attack following news of the mob's rein of terror along Domain Road,
Pender Street, McGregor Road and by Government Buiildings.
The mob later smashed the Fiji Televison headquarters
in Gorrie Street. The army since then have set up road-blocks manned by the
soldiers around the capital city and its
periphery. Lt. Mataitini said the situation is assessed daily before
lifting or replacing road-blocks.
"It does not mean that we lift the road-blocks whenever we want to we look
at the necessity of it." Meanwhile the army is
trying to set up a Board of Inquiry which will hold internal investigations
on soldiers involved in the political crisis from
May 19.
Lt. Mataitini said the investigations will see those involved being court
marshalled. "They are likely to be charged with
mutiny amongst other things."


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