Change Of Guard

Colonel Ratu Jone Kalouniwai has emerged as a top contender to be the new Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces. Another contender is Colonel Sitiveni Qiliho, the Land
02 Aug 2015 12:48
Change Of Guard
Colonel Sitiveni Qiliho, cting Commander Commodore Viliame Naupoto, Colonel Jone Kalouniwai, Brigadier-General Mosese Tikoitoga and Deputy Commander Brigadier-General Mohammed Aziz.

Colonel Ratu Jone Kalouniwai has emerged as a top contender to be the new Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.

Another contender is Colonel Sitiveni Qiliho, the Land Force Commander.

This follows the resignation of Brigadier General Mosese Tikoitoga on Friday, and the appointment of Commodore Viliame Naupoto as Acting Commander.

The Tikoitoga-Naupoto changes were announced at a special meeting of more than 100 senior officers and the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama at the Officers Mess of the Queen Elizabeth Barracks, Suva, yesterday.

Mr Bainimarama made the recommendation to the President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, in his capacity as the Chairperson of the Constitutional Offices Commission. Ratu Epeli made the appointment.

Mr Bainimarama was open and candid when he spoke to the officers. He told them Brigadier-General Tikoitoga was earmarked for a diplomatic posting and it necessitated the changes.

Brigadier-General Tikoitoga is likely to be posted as Fiji High Commissioner to South Africa in Pretoria, replacing incumbent Ben Salacakau.

Captain Naupoto has been promoted to Commodore.

The changes in leadership will be formalised when Colonel Kalouniwai returns.

It is understood that Colonel Kalouniwai, 47, is a top candidate for Commander.

He is currently serving as the Chief of Staff UNDOF (United Nations Disengagement Observer Force) on the Israeli border of the Golan Heights.

He was Land Force Commander, Chief of Staff Land Force Command and Commanding Officer Third Battalion Fiji Infantry Regiment.

He has also served as Commanding Officer to the Second Battalion Fiji Infantry Regiment under the Multinational Force and Observers in Sinai, Egypt.

Colonel Kalouniwai holds a Masters degree in Business Administration specialising in Human Resources, from the University of Central Queensland, and a Masters degree in Defence and Strategic Studies, from the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington, South India.

One of the highlights of his career happened when he was Commander Second Battalion in Sinai in 2008-2009. The Fiji Battalion won the inter-forces male and female military skills competition against American, British, Colombian and Australian forces after a lapse of five years. He is said to be popular and highly respected among all ranks.

Former senior military officers including Jioji Konrote, Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Minister for Youth and Sports Laisenia Tuitubou, Assistant Minister for Agriculture Joeli Cawaki joined Mr Bainimarama in the meeting with the officers. Brigadier-General Tikoitoga was not present.

Commodore Naupoto, who was Chief of Staff, appealed to the officers to give him the same support they gave the outgoing Commander.

Deputy Commander Brigadier-General Mohammed Aziz is returning from his long service leave tomorrow to bolster the senior officers ranks.

Land Force Commander Colonel Sitiveni Qiliho is on tour with the Defence Minister Timoci Natuva in the Middle East visiting Fijian peacekeepers.




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