23 May 2002

Fiji army seeks new deployments for Lebanon peacekeepers

4:43 am on 23 May 2002

Fiji troops have been offered peacekeeping duties in the Congo and Burundi in Africa.

Radio Fiji says this has been disclosed by the military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, who has just returned from visiting Fiji troops in several parts of the world.

Commodore Bainimarama says the military is considering the offer since Fiji troops will no longer be required for duties in Lebanon after December.

The battalion in Lebanon will be withdrawn after 24 years service there as the United Nations downsizes its forces to 3,500 soldiers.

Meanwhile, Fiji troops will continue serving in the Sinai and in East Timor for the next two years.

Fiji troops in Bougainville will remain there as long as the Papua New Guinea government wants.

The demobilisation of returning Fiji soldiers has been a source of great concern to the authorities because of the unemployment it will create.