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SUVA, Fiji Islands (November 22, 2001 – Daily Post/FijiLive)---The Fiji Labour Party has warned the Government to proceed slowly on reducing manpower in the army.

And Labasa parliamentarian Poseci Bune yesterday said the FLP has confidence in Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama's leadership.

Mr. Bune said that for the Government to start work on the reduction of manpower in the military as early as next year is a project that has to be carefully looked into.

As it is, Mr. Bune said, the Police Department could not uphold law and order.

He suggested that a Police White Paper be prepared before giving the police full responsibility for security in the country.

The FLP parliamentarian said in order for the police and the military to work side by side, a post of Joint Chief of Staff should be created and be rotated between the two forces.

Mr. Bune said that the military played a major role in the maintenance of law and order in the country during the political crisis last year.

He said this was so despite revelations in the court martial for soldiers accused of mutiny that the rift in the army was because of the appointment of the Commander.

"I must admit here that we in the FLP are confident of the Commander's leadership and it was through him that we're able to bring democracy back into our beloved country," Mr. Bune said.

He said that soldiers, who will be coming back from peacekeeping duties in Lebanon next year, should be trained to go back into civilian life.

A college in Malaysia deals with the type of training needed for these soldiers and he suggested that the Government, with its Look North Policy, approach Malaysia to put in place a sister school here in Fiji.

With regard to the peacekeepers' claim of unpaid allowances, Mr. Bune said it had some merits and the Government should not ignore the claims.

He suggested that an independent tribunal should be established by the Government to look into the matter.

Members of the Fiji Peacekeeping and Action Trust Association are claiming they are owed about F$ 400 million (US$ 175,480,000).

The Minister for Home Affairs has already stated that the Government owes nothing to the soldiers, as they were paid their allowance while serving in the Middle East.

For additional reports from Fiji’s Daily Post, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/FijiLive.

For additional reports from FijiLive, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/FijiLive.

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