Fiji names military man as police chief
- Rowan Callick
- From: The Australian
ruler, Frank Bainimarama, is consolidating control of the armed forces by appointing Iowane Naivalurua as police chief.
The brigadier general will today replace Commodore Esala Teleni, whose “Jesus Strategy” began to unsettle people in the government and beyond. It focused on Christian crusades and conversions as the prime strategy for combating crime, with mandatory worship at police stations.
An Information Ministry statement late last week said pointedly: “Commodore Teleni, in his resignation, stated that he believed he has made a significant contribution to the Fiji Police Force. However, it is now time for him to consider further career opportunities.”
It was announced last month that he would be succeeded by career policeman and deputy commissioner Joeli Baleilevuka. But three weeks later, Commodore Bainimarama stepped in and appointed one of his closest military colleagues to the key job.
General Naivalurua became commander of Fiji’s land forces in 2005, then led the first battalion in its Iraq deployment for six months. He has been the prisons commissioner since the coup led by Commodore Bainimarama in December 2006.
In 2005, then colonel Naivalurua said the army would never allow another coup in Fiji.
Before the 2006 coup, he described Commodore Bainimarama as “courageous, strong and a saviour of Fiji in this time of need”.
The day after that coup, Commodore Bainimarama sacked Fiji’s police commissioner, Andrew Hughes, a former senior Australian Federal Police officer, who went on to head the police in the UN’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
General Naivalurua said after being appointed to the police job: “Expect changes, but not everything will be changed. I hope to build a strong force that will work strongly in partnership with the community.”
Meanwhile, Commodore Bainimarama, since returning from a recent visit to China, has urged the people of Fiji, especially public servants, to take up tai chi. At Sukuna Park, next to the main government offices, he introduced new Chinese tai chi coach Xu Xiangdong.
Meanwhile Fiji’s Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuobola congratulated Kevin Rudd last week on becoming Australia’s Foreign Minister, saying he hoped the countries’ “long and deep historical ties” would be “strengthened under your stewardship”.