FORMER FIJI PEACEKEEPERS IN LEBANON SUE FIJI GOVERNMENT

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 14, 2002 – Radio Australia)---Former Fijian peacekeepers are suing the Fiji government over claims they were shortchanged while serving in the Middle East.

As Ofa Kaukimoce reports from Suva, a writ has been filed in the High Court by troops who served with the United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon (UNIFIL) mission.

"The peacekeepers who are members of the Fiji Peacekeepers Association are suing government for F$ 255 million (US$ 110,325,000).

"They are demanding their pay and allowances that the United Nations has been remitting to the government since 1978.

"This, they claim, stood at F$ 255 million (US$ 110,325,000) as of December last year.

"Also included in the claims is recreation leave allowance, which usually is paid every six months during a tour of duty.

"The writ states fraud as the basis of the claim.

"It also asks the court to award the peacekeepers interest at a rate of 12 percent per annum for the pay and allowances compounded from 1978.

"The Fiji Military Forces and government have been named as defendants.

[Earlier, a government spokesperson said the peacekeepers were paid all funds due them as government employees.]

"Meanwhile, Fiji troops will withdraw from the UNIFIL mission this coming September.

"Ofa Kaukimoce, Radio Australia, Suva."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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