9 Jun 2006

Fiji government decides against cutting back military numbers

7:20 am on 9 June 2006

Fiji's home affairs minister says the size of the military will not be reduced as proposed in a Defence White Paper prepared for the government.

The paper has recommended cutting the size of the military by almost 50% from 3,300 to 1,700.

The military had warned of far reaching consequences for national security if the proposed Defence White Paper is implemented, adding that what is happening in East Timor is a good example that Fiji should learn from.

Now, Josefa Vosanibola has told parliament they cannot afford to reduce the numbers as as the security of the nation and its citizens is of paramount importance.

The Fiji Times quotes Mr Vosanibola as saying it would be a mammoth task dealing with the hundreds of men and women who would be made redundant if the size of the military were to be reduced.

The Defence White Paper has also proposed changing the method of appointing the military commander so that the responsibility passes from the president and commander-in-chief to the National Security Council headed by the prime minister.