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By Marc Neil-Jones

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Sept. 10) –The Vanuatu government wants to look at setting up a separate National Guard or Republican Guard security force to protect the government and investors in times of instability.

Mark Gensanne confirmed that the Vanuatu government had long held the idea of having a separate security force but had never had the money to set it up until now.

He is the new Francophone technical advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is a long term resident and citizen of Vanuatu with experience working with the United Nations and the French Foreign Legion.

Gensanne made it clear that the idea was simply that at this stage and that once his position had been gazetted he would start work on the idea.

"I am looking at putting a proposal together for the Council of Ministers to set up a small highly trained commando security force of up to 16 men to protect the government in the event of a coup and to provide instant security for investors in the event of problems. The new security force would live in separate barracks to the VMF and consist of the best people in the VMF and police, both Anglophone and Francophone who would undergo further specialist training in unarmed combat and in security. The new security force would be armed," he said.

In the early 80's Barak Sope started courting Libya under the pretext of training a small paramilitary force for security purposes however for financial reasons it never materialised.

Gensanne has a successful Vanilla business in Ambrym where he holds a chiefly title, is a landowner and honorary chief in Erromango and runs Prime Import Export company in Vila as well as the Sunrise Bungalow overlooking the harbour where the first Vohor government signed its MOU.

He brushed aside concerns raised over the issue of a paramilitary force set up to protect the government in case of the threat of a coup or civil unrest. He advised, "The VMF will not have a problem with this as the new force will be comprised of their elite soldiers and any government in power will have protection."

He advised that although they would be armed the public would not know and the soldiers would be kept at a low profile if the government decided to proceed with the proposal. He said that there was a need for a highly skilled and disciplined security force to be attached to the President.

However concerns are likely to be raised over a separate military wing loyal to the government if problems similar to what happened in 2003 between the police and VMF arise again and two opposing forces are armed.

Gensanne said: "It will be good for Vanuatu and good for investors to know that there is a force capable of protecting them in the event of problems. They will beused to investigate corruption and internal issues of concern to the government"

He advised Daily Post he had been involved in the setting up of similar security units in Africa in Chad, the Congo and Djibouti when he was involved in the Foreign legion in the late 70's. He advised that the idea is in its infant stages at present.

"I hope to have something ready for the government to look at by the end of October and then we can see if funds can be found to finance it."

Meanwhile in a twist to this story government spokesman Kalvau Moli confirmed yesterday that China has agreed a considerable increase in aid to Vanuatu for security purposes. He confirmed that the money would be used to set up a new military arm.

September 14, 2004

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