ANALYSIS: Colonel Kalouniwai Looking After Our Best Interests

Colonel Ratu Jone Kalouniwai has stepped up in his role as Republic of Fiji Military Forces Chief of Staff. His recent public statements are in line with the RFMF’s constitutional
29 Jun 2017 11:13
ANALYSIS: Colonel Kalouniwai Looking After Our Best Interests
Jone Kalauniwai

Colonel Ratu Jone Kalouniwai has stepped up in his role as Republic of Fiji Military Forces Chief of Staff.

His recent public statements are in line with the RFMF’s constitutional responsibility.

Section 131 (2) of the Constitution states that “it shall be the overall responsibility of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces to ensure at all times the security, defence and well-being of Fiji and all Fijians.”

It’s come as no surprise then that Colonel Kalouniwai has become the face and voice of the RFMF as it switches to proactive mode in its bid to maintain peace and stability in the lead-up to the 2018 general election.

Colonel Kalouniwai is a Voreqe Bainimarama protege and he has been groomed to one day become the Commander of the RFMF to succeed Rear-Admiral Viliame Naupoto.

The other candidate, Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho, is now Police Commissioner. That leaves the way clear for Colonel Kalouniwai to ascend to the top post.

He is one of the rising stars of the RFMF who were trained and developed during Mr Bainimarama’s term as Commander. He is highly respected within the military and a member of the chiefly clan of Rewa.

He recently completed his term as the Chief of Staff UNDOF (United Nations Disengagement Observer Force) on the Israeli/Syrian border of the Golan Heights. He received the Force Commanders Commendation Award. He was also presented with the UNDOF service medal.

The Force Commander’s Commendation is only given to officers and soldiers with actions or performances that are considered well above the call of duty and significantly improves the performance of the mission.

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.

Colonel Kalouniwai has the intellectual capacity, like other officers being prepared by the military, to articulate national issues.

There is still the possibility that Rear-Admiral Naupoto could return to politics for the 2018 general election. He was a FijiFirst candidate in the 2014 election. He failed to win a seat and rejoined the RFMF as acting Commander before he became Commander.

Colonel Kalouniwai’s reading of the developments in the political, religious and cultural arenas has prompted two public statements recently.

One was aimed at Pio Tikoduadua, the president of the National Federation Party. The other was aimed at SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka. Both leaders are former military officers. Colonel Kalouniwai criticised Mr Tikoduadua for saying that security depends on the goodwill of all citizens, particularly the iTaukei. He also warned members of the Fiji ex-Peacekeepers And Action Trustee Association (FPAATA) about Mr Rabuka’s involvement in their affairs.

Expect more statements from Colonel Kalouniwai in the months ahead leading up to the general election. He has made it clear that the RFMF does not want to stifle the freedom of people to express themselves. But people need to be aware to stick within the bounds of the law and not resort to that kind of old politics that is divisive and incites ethnic, religious, cultural and social intolerance.

The RFMF knows what can happen if it does not take a proactive stance. It does not want a repeat of a dark past where the country was plunged into political turmoil. Some died, many suffered. Today, some are still carrying the pain and scars from the past.

Therefore, people need to get used to the military getting involved in a good way to protect them.

Previously the RFMF was engaged only when called upon by the Police in the case of emergencies. The Police, as part of their role to maintain law and order, were in charge of security. Now, the RFMF is overall in charge. So we could be hearing and seeing more of Colonel Kalouniwai in the coming months. Don’t be surprised. He means well because he is looking after all of us.

Edited by Naisa Koroi


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