The nation intends to reduce its military contingent in Iraq twice as of the beginning of next year along with Poland, which has announced its plans to withdraw troops. Defense Minister Gediminas Kirkilas said the nation would not send troops to replace the LITDET (Lithuanian Detachment) peacekeepers as of the beginning of next year. LITDET is serving in the Polish-led multi-national division in the province of Babylon, central Iraq. LITDET-5, comprised of some 50 troops, started a mission in mid-July. The detachment will return to Lithuania in January.
Voters may be able to elect the next parliament via Internet. Parliamentary Chairman Arturas Paulauskas said that, following Estonia's example, Lithuania should also ensure an opportunity to vote via Internet in three years. "I believe we could have serious discussions of the laws, practice, move certain standards and possibly attempt to apply the voting system in the parliamentary elections," he told journalists. Zenonas Vaigauskas, the head of the Central Electoral Committee, was quoted as saying that there were technical possibilities for electronic voting in the local elections timed for early 2007.
The second unit of national troops has taken over the mission of Afghanistan's Ghor provincial reconstruction team. In a solemn lineup, the leader of the outgoing Ghor PRT, Colonel Gintautas Zenkevicius, thanked the troops for their good service and expressed satisfaction over their efficient course of operations, said spokesman Senior Lieutenant Ricardas Uzelka. The incoming PRT is headed by Colonel Gintaras Azubalis. Brigadier General Arvydas Pocius, commander of Lithuanian Field Forces, was present at the ceremony and wished all the best to the replacing PRT.
Amid global panic over bird flu, medical institutions are running out of flu vaccine. "We are out of the vaccine. We sold the vaccine very quickly back in October, and foreign producers have no plans of providing it additionally to our market," Lietuvos Rytas cited Renata Blackute of Armila, a medication wholesale company, as saying. Bronius Morkunas, director of the Center for the Prevention and Control of Contagious Diseases, told the Baltic News Service that the center had approximately 70 doses of vaccine.