26 Apr 2009

UN won't drop Fiji troops, says Fiji spokesman

8:03 am on 26 April 2009

The military-led government is confident the United Nations will not stop using soldiers from Fiji for peacekeeping duties.

There have been calls for the UN to suspend their use, after the constitution was revoked and military leader Frank Bainimarama reinstated despite an Appeal Court ruling that his government was illegal.

As at the end of March, Fiji was contributing 282 soldiers and police officers to UN peacekeeping missions.

New Zealand Green Party MP Keith Locke says by continuing to recruit peacekeepers from Fiji, the UN is helping fund the current regime.

Fiji government spokesperson Major Neumi Leweni says the UN has set a precedent in not stopping participation from countries such as Pakistan and Zimbabwe, so Fiji will not be excluded from peacekeeping missions.

UN security conference

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Ratu Epeli Ganilau will attend a United Nations conference on security governance in Tonga - the first international meeting for a Fiji government official since the constitution was revoked.

The minister says he is ready to answer any questions at the conference regarding the military's role in past coups and the takeover of December 2006.

He says the size of Fiji's militarydoes not need to be cut, despite the military playing major role in three of the four coups in the last two decades.

The conference, which starts on Monday, will look at security challenges in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.