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Government defence spending approved

Parliament has approved government plans to spend SFr917 million ($784 million) on army procurements.

Tuesday's vote in the House of Representatives reversed the house's earlier position, when the rightwing People's Party joined the centre-left Socialist Party and the Greens in rejecting the programme.

Under the programme, SFr404 million will be spent on modernising the F/A-18 fighter aircraft, and 396 million on troop transporters. Another 70 million is earmarked for ABC (atomic, biological, chemical) reconnaissance vehicles and 47 million for ABC detection vehicles.

The People's Party said it had accepted the plan after the defence ministry had responded to its request for information about shortcomings in the army and how it intended to overcome them.

It is largely assumed that one of the reasons why it voted against the plan earlier was to oust Defence Minister Samuel Schmid, who was already under pressure over the enforced resignation of his choice of army chief, Roland Nef.

Schmid announced in November that he was stepping down. Parliament elected his replacement, Ueli Maurer of the People's Party, last week.

The spending plan has already been approved by the Senate.


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