5 Mar 2009

Commonwealth gives Fiji a six month deadline to restore democracy

5:22 am on 5 March 2009

The Commonwealth has given Fiji a six-month deadline to restore democracy or face the full suspension of its membership, in the wake of a coup in 2006.

In a statement, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, said it deplored the fact that Fiji remained in contravention of Commonwealth values and principles.

The group issued the statement after a meeting in London of ministers and representatives from nine Commonwealth countries.

The threat stopped short of many countries' calls for Fiji's membership to be fully suspended immediately.

Fiji is already banned from Commonwealth ministerial meetings due to the 2006 coup, but technical aid such as training that it still receives from its fellow countries would also be halted, if its full membership were suspended.

The ministers noted that Fiji had ignored a deadline to hold elections by March 2009, adding that should sufficient progress not take place, Fiji will be fully suspended from the Commonwealth at the Group's next meeting in September.

The ministers also said they were also prepared to convene an earlier meeting if Fiji failed to produce a roadmap towards restoring a democratic government.