FIJI MILITARY SAYS DEPLOYMENT NOT FOR UN MISSION

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Feb. 26) - The 92 Fiji soldiers leaving for Sinai this week are not part of a United Nations mission, military spokesman Major Neumi Leweni clarified yesterday.

He said the troops were instead part of a multinational force sanctioned by the United States of America.

And the six officers who are in Sudan are part of the UN mission, Leweni said.

"The Sinai deployment is not part of the UN but the deployment to Sudan is part of a normal routine where the six who are there return and six other military observers replace them," said Leweni.

He was reacting to overseas media reports that the United Nations Secretary General's office in New York had expressed surprise at announcements of a deployment of Fiji soldiers for UN missions.

Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan before the military coup of December 5 had warned that they would not accept Fiji soldiers into any of its peacekeeping missions if a military coup takes place.

The coup took place and a spokesman of the new secretary general Ban Ki-moon, says that no new deployment from Fiji has taken place since the coup.

New Zealand has been lobbying with the UN to suspend Fiji from UN missions after the coup but the military has criticized them for this.

Leweni had earlier said New Zealand's stance on the matter just goes to show their lack of knowledge and understanding of UN member countries.

He said this was because most member countries have the same circumstances as Fiji and were in the same situation.

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