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Soldiers To Watch Kids -Armed security for schools

By Mithleshni Gurdayal, Daily Post Fiji

SUVA: Armed soldiers are to provide security for Fiji's students and teachers when school reopens on Monday, it was revealed last night.

Schools throughout Fiji have been on extended five weeks forced holiday, after George Speight and his gunmen kidnapped prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry's government on May 19.

Acting Permanent Secretary for Education Emi Rabukawaqa said yesterday that police and the army would provide the necessary security to all schools in the Suva and Nausori area.

Mrs Rabukawaqa said the decision to commence classes next week was reached after the Home Affairs Ministry agreed to provide security to students and teachers.

"Police and soldiers will be stationed at schools in Suva, Nausori and Muainaweni to see that schools operate peacefully," Ms Rabukawaqa said.

"The Ministry of Education relies on Home Affairs as we ourselves can't act as security forces - because we are only an education body."

She said all schools should develop and put in place contingency and security arraignments for the safety of lives and property.

"Heads of schools that need police surveillance should contact the National Operations Centre to make security arraignments," she said.

"The Ministry appreciates the support, protection and encouragement provided to students, teachers and school managements to ensure the continued provision of education."

She said transportation shouldn't be a problem as the bus companies have agreed to provide regular school services to students and teachers.

"We are thankful to the bus operators who have agreed to provide normal services to the community when schools begin next week."

Bus Operators Association general secretary Shiu Charan said operators were ready to provide services to the children and teachers.

"We will do our best when schools reopen and hope that we will get the necessary security and support," Mr Charan said.

In other developments:

* The Daily Post reported that mills had been ordered to begin crushing from today by acting Sugar Industry Tribunal chairman Daryl Tarte.

* The Fiji Times reported that a nine-member committee was given the task of finding a solution to the political impasse.

This was decided after talks between the military, rebel leader George Speight's group and a Great Council of Chiefs delegation ended in deadlock.

The committee was reported to comprise three from each group. The council will be represented by Ratu Epeli Kanaimawi, Adi Litia Cakobau and Ratu Oseah Gavidi, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, Lieutenant-Colonel Filipo Tarakinikini and Colonel Jerry Waqanisau represent the military.

George Speight, Tevita Bukarau and Vodo Tuberi are from the rebel group.

* The Daily Post reported that the Ministry of Health had been warned to "brace itself" for an exodus of professional and technical staff over the next few months.

This was revealed in a report prepared by medical superintendent Dr Yogendra Narayan.


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