5 Jun 2006

Fiji military hopes to brief minister over concerns on defence white paper

3:28 pm on 5 June 2006

The Fiji military is hoping for a meeting with the Minister of Home Affairs shortly to brief him and to raise the issue of a Defence White Paper reported to propose slashing the numbers in the army by nearly 50 percent.

The army spokesman, Captain Neumi Leweni, says when they initially became aware of the proposals, senior officers did voice their concerns but that was some time ago.

It's believed the white paper recommends that the 3,300 strong army be reduced to around 1,700 with much of the reduction from land forces, and its focus change to be mostly on peacekeeping.

Captain Leweni says they don't want to make any comment yet but hope to meet the Minister of Home Affairs this week.

"We're still yet to meet with the minister of home affairs, and when we do meet, then that is probably where we will raise the issue - sometime soon because it's a normal procedure when a new government comes in and minister comes in, we normally brief him on the military's operations for the next five years."

Captain Neumi Leweni.

The new multi-party cabinet is expected to consider the white paper's recommendations over the next couple of weeks.