UPA (Utanian Press Agency)
Release: February 16, 301 AP.

President Okarvits under increasing pressure over defence expenditure

President Okarvits is under increasing pressure to significantly reduce the capital expenditure on defence hardware by Utania, with the "Peace Bloc" now said to have as many as thirty members, since the shock revelation Wednesday that the total bill will exceed Û25 billion.

The President held only one press conference today, on the release of casualty reports from the Office of the Dignanian Peacekeeping mission, and pointedly refused to answer questions about the current political wrangling over defence expenditure. This has heightened fears that the President will press ahead with the Executive Order, forcing a showdown with Parliament and many members of his own government opposed to the expenditure. The showdown is increasingly likely to result in his defeat, marking a possible end to government support for the President.

The President announced reform of the military, accompanied by a defence expansion costing Û10 billion. Though several grumbles from pacifists and socialists alike were heard, the majority of the government supported such a moderate expansion. Since that cost has near-tripled, opposition has grown substantially.

It is suspected that a bloc of ministers in cabinet have pushed the plan, led by Minister for Defence Samual Artos. Several MPs are known to have lobbied the President to back down and reduce the budget, but none have apparently succeeded in securing an agreement from the President to do so.


©UPA, 301 AP.

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