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SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, April 3) – The United Nations has rebuffed the Commonwealth’s request to stop using Fiji soldiers in its peacekeeping missions.

Commonwealth secretary general Don McKinnon asked the UN to stop the Fiji Military Forces because of last year’s military coup.

McKinnon said he raised the "ethical issue" of the UN paying hundreds of Fiji soldiers as peacekeepers in Iraq and elsewhere in recent weeks with new UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon.

"'Don, we need the peacekeepers,' unquote," Ban had responded, McKinnon told The Associated Press.

According to an International Herald Tribune report, an official at the U.N. regional headquarters, in the Australian capital of Canberra, referred queries on the comment to U.N. headquarters in New York.

The Commonwealth suspended Fiji nine days after military commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama seized power in a coup.

Commodore Bainimarama appointed an interim government with him at its head, and has said he may call elections to restore democracy in about three years.

Some 300 Fiji peacekeepers guard the U.N. compound in Baghdad.

Late last year, then U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan strongly deplored Fiji's coup in Fiji and demanded the immediate restoration of the country's elected government, and said the country's involvement in future peacekeeping missions could be in jeopardy.

But Fiji's existing U.N. deployments have remained in place.


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