7 Aug 2007

Britain rejects bid to stop recruitment of Fiji nationals for its armed services

6:55 am on 7 August 2007

The British government has rejected a bid by some Commonwealth countries to stop the recruitment of Fiji nationals for its armed forces.

Fiji TV reports that the bid was initiated by the Australian foreign minister, Alexander Downer, with the support of the Commonwealth secretary general and former New Zealand foreign minister, Don McKinnon.

Mr McKinnon says as head of the Commonwealth, Britain is not setting a good example by taking on recruits from a country whose army has carried out a coup.

The acting Fiji high commissioner in London, Maca Tulakepa, has confirmed that intense lobbying against the recruitment had been going on since the beginning of the year.

But the high commission made representations direct to the head of the British army, General Sir Richard Dannett, which resulted in the British ministry of defence ruling that recruitment from Fiji won't stop.

Over 2000 Fijian soldiers are serving in the British army with smaller numbers in the navy and the air force.