Esala Teleni

Esala Teleni

Captain Esala Teleni is a Fijian naval officer, who currently serves as Deputy Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces. He was appointed to this post on 3 January 2007, formalizing a role he had been playing for quite some time, having often acted in the stead of the Military Commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama in his absence. As Deputy Commander, he succeeded Colonel Ioane Naivalurua, who left to take up a new post as Commissioner of Prisons. According to Fiji Television, the appointment was backdated to 6 December 2006.

Teleni is regarded as a staunch ally of Bainimarama, who seized power in a military coup on 5 December 2006. Prior to the coup, Teleni played a key role in thwarting a government move to dismiss Bainimarama and install Colonel Meli Saubulinayau, who was regarded as loyal to the government, in his place.

Teleni had been strident in his repeated calls for the government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase to resign, and on 1 November 2006 openly flouted government and police directives by ordering the seizure of a shipment of seven tons of ammunition, which Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes had refused to release. On 4 November, the Fiji Times quoted him as issuing a direct challenge to the police, saying in an address to territorial, regular, and reserve troops at a two-week camp at Suva's Queen Elizabeth Barracks in Nabua, that the Military, and not the police, was the country's last bastion of law and order. The same day, the Fiji Village news service quoted him as branding Hughes a liar for saying that the Military had breeched procedures and taken the shipment illegally, and on 7 November, he called on Hughes to resign, claiming that Hughes could not be in charge of investigating his own complaint about the shipment seizure.

Teleni hails from the island of Vatoa in the Lau Archipelago.

In 2004, Captain Teleni attended the year long Defence and Strategic Studies Course at the Australian Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies located at Weston Creek, Canberra. Captain Teleni was a popular and highly regarded member of the course, which is designed to instill high level policy and strategic skills in senior defence officers from Australia and its areas of interest.

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