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Swiss voters to decide on mandatory army service

GENEVA (AP) – Switzerland’s government says an advocacy group has collected enough signatures to prompt a vote on whether to end the nation’s long tradition of compulsory army service.

The Federal Chancellery said Thursday that the Group for a Switzerland Without an Army, or GSoA, collected 106,995 valid signatures. At least 100,000 signatures were needed to hold the vote.

A 19th century law requires all able-bodied male citizens to serve between the ages of 19 and 34 for an initial basic training of up to 21 weeks and then a few weeks a year after that.

Two-thirds of Swiss voters backed keeping military duty in 1989. GSoA says a new vote would be held after the Defense Ministry reports back on the proposal a year from now.

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