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ACT Seeks Urgent Debate On Solomons Deployment

The ACT party believes the issue of committing unarmed New Zealand soldiers and police personnel to the Solomons should be debated in parliament, said ACT Leader, Hon Richard Prebble.

Foreign Affairs Minister, Phil Goff, announced today that New Zealand would send unarmed military and civilian police to the Solomon Islands to participate in an International Peace Monitoring Team for the Solomon Islands

"Solomon Islands officials and rival militia groups signed a peace accord on 15 October after six days of tense negotiations in Townsville, Australia. The accord aims to end decades of tension and two years of fighting over land and jobs.

“The deployment of unarmed New Zealanders to a potentially volatile environment is a topic worthy of parliamentary debate.

“ACT sympathises with the Government’s intentions but believes many important questions need to be publicly answered, such as how long will the New Zealanders be stationed in the Solomons? Who will guarantee their safety? Does the Government have an exit strategy? Will they be withdrawn if the accord proves unworkable?

“There are over 1,500 guns in the hands of militia and undercover criminals claiming to be militia. The militia may surrender their guns - some have already, but when have criminals ever surrendered guns?

“The peace agreement is the sixth that has been signed. Peacekeepers from Fiji and Vanuatu came to oversee it. The militias just ignored them. With a growing population and many young men without jobs or prospects, there are no shortage of recruits.

“ACT believes the Speaker, Rt. Hon Jonathon Hunt, will agree that the issue does require the immediate attention of the House and Government and will grant an urgent debate this afternoon,” said Hon Richard Prebble. ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.


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