UPA (Utanian Press Agency)
Release: January 22, 301 AP.

President defends Dignanian Peacekeeping role

As the peace talks in Dignania continued yesterday, three artillery shells slammed into the village of St. Johns injuring two Utanian peacekeepers. This has raised serious doubts in Utania as to the need to "risk Utanian lives" says Opposition leader Thomas Kemp.

Utanian newspapers were full of pictures of the horrific damage, even though they come from a small handful of reporters actually allowed anywhere near the village of St Johns. Several buildings were damaged beyond recognition, and at least three Dignanian villagers have been killed. The two Utanian peacekeepers were escorting members of the North Dignania democratic delegation when showered with debris. One additional peackeeper was injured when attempting to rescue villagers from the decimated buildings when an unstable wall collapsed. There were no Utanian fatalities.

Thomas Kemp MP, leader of the opposition, echoed some newspaper editorials asking the question whether Utanian lives should be risked for the "obviously hopeless Dignanian situation". He said that Utania had far more pressing duties at home, and attacked the lack of action by the President on other fronts.

President Okarvits responded with a brief statement expounding on the benefits to Utania in terms of "her international standing and reputation", that this would also raise the experience of Utanian fighting forces in bringing peace to troubled places. He denounced the recent flare-up of violence by the opposing sides, but said that "the path to lasting peace is never paved with gold, but is hard and full of temptation back to violence". President Okarvits refused to accept that the situation was "hopeless", instead saying was confident that a peace could be established, and that he hoped Utania could continue playing a role. When later asked what role, President Okarvits said he hoped Utanian troops could patrol the border, and offer humanitarian assistance to both sides.

One MP later asked in Parliament about "those Utanian soldiers who can no longer voice an opinion" on their stationing in Dignania, referring to the unknown numbers of casualties and fatalities that have not been revealled by the President. Gordon Arnand MP (Con; Bthn) said he was in contact with a family whose son had been killed, but there was no official statement on HOW he died in Dignania.

©UPA, 301 AP.

©Mike Ham, 2001. All rights reserved. No reproduction without, at least, tacit approval. ;-)