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Swiss group wants voluntary peace corps to replace army

An anti-army group on Friday handed in the necessary signatures to force a vote on abolishing the Swiss army and replacing it with a voluntary peace corps.

This content was published on September 10, 1999 - 17:19

An anti-army group on Friday handed in the necessary signatures to force a vote on abolishing the Swiss army and replacing it with a voluntary peace corps.

The GSOA group (above) -- which is an acronym for “Group Army-free Switzerland” – presented the federal chancellery with the signatures of 110,842 and 113,496 signatures respectively.

Any Swiss individual or group can launch a so-called people’s initiative by collective at least 100,000 signatures validated by the federal authorities. The move paves the way for a national vote and is considered a key political tool in Swiss democracy.

The group says there is no need to keep the Swiss army alive in a post-Cold War era in which there is no direct military threat for the country.

One Social Democrat member of parliament said that, instead of “sending Swiss soldiers to wherever they look useful,” Switzerland should abolish the force.

GSOA calls for abolishing the army within ten years and replacing it with a force of volunteers who would contribute to national and international conflict resolution efforts.

Swiss voters rejected the group’s first initiative on abolishing the army in a national vote in 1989 with a two-thirds majority.

From staff and wire reports.


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