I am free, says PM

I am free, says PM By MAIKA BOLATIKI Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama was pulled out in a military tradition to symbolise his exit as Commander yesterday and declared “
06 Mar 2014 12:36

Republic of Fiji Military Forces new Commander Brigadier General Mosese Tikoitoga (left), shares a light moment with outgoing Commander and Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama (right), at Queen Elizabeth Barracks yesterday. Photo: jona konataci.

I am free, says PM


Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama was pulled out in a military tradition to symbolise his exit as Commander yesterday and declared “ Now, I am free to form my political party.”
After 39 years in military service, 15 as Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, Commodore Bainimarama yesterday handed over the reins to his successor, Brigadier-General Mosese Tikoitoga.
He was towed by senior officers from Tuvasu Hall to the main gate, where he said he was now ready to embark on his political career.
He said the new party would be launched soon. The party’s name was a secret, he added.
“You will soon know when we make the launch,” he said. He had earlier said that the name of the party would be inclusive.
In his address at the handover ceremony, he said: “Today, I leave behind my 39-year career in the RFMF to become a civilian and lead a political movement to contest the 2014 General Elections – a political movement that we all started together.”
He said the 2013 Constitution required him to relinquish his military career if he wanted to contest the forthcoming election. “It is the supreme law of the land and the blueprint for the new Fiji we are building.”
Like all Fijians, he said he was obliged to obey the terms of that Constitution and he did so willingly. “I solemnly pledge before you all today that I will do everything in my power to uphold the 2013 Fijian Constitution. And I ask you all to do the same.”
His reminded the RFMF that “it is the guardian of the nation and the protector of every Fijian. And this duty is now guided by our nation’s Constitution, which it is your solemn duty to defend and protect.
“I am intensely conscious of the solemn duty that rests with me to continue the revolution that we began together seven years ago – to create a new Fiji, a better Fiji for ourselves and for future generations,” he said.

Wonderful memories
As he left the military he said he would take with him some wonderful memories of comradeship and shared experiences, of the many challenges of a career at sea and on land, moments of high drama, tragedy and crisis. And, of course, the many laughs and good times they had shared over the years.
“But above all, I take with me a feeling of intense pride – pride in the RFMF, pride in our servicemen and women, pride in our service to every Fijian, pride in our beloved nation.”

Thanking those serving abroad
He thanked those men and women serving overseas.” 508 personnel serving in the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force in the Golan Heights, Syria; 328 in the Multi-National Force and Observers in Sinai; 195 in the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq; 23 in the United Nations Mission in Liberia; 20 in the United Nations mission in Darfur, Sudan; 15 in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan. And two in RAMSI, Solomon Islands.”
He said they were not only assisting their fellow Fijians when they needed them most. “We are assisting vulnerable ordinary people in other parts of the world. We punch above our weight in global affairs. We are respected by other military forces – because we serve. That record of service is something that every Fijian can take pride in.”

Last parting shot
“If every man and woman in the RFMF leads by personal example, then together as a force, we lead by example. We show every Fijian that we are worthy of their respect. We lead the nation on the march to greatness. That is our vision. That is our dream. And it begins here, with every one of us.
“Sadly, this is the moment when “us” becomes “you” – you, the men and women of the RFMF, me, from today, a civilian Prime Minister. The time has come for me to say goodbye. The time has come to welcome the new Commander.”

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