5 Mar 2009

NZ's Foreign Minister says Commonwealth backs Forum decision

11:53 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.

New Zealand's Foreign Minister, Murray McCully was at the meeting.

He says the Commonwealth has endorsed the approach being taken by Forum leaders at their meeting in Port Moresby in January.

Forum leaders at that meeting gave Fiji a first of May deadline to announce an election date or face targetted measures.

Mr McCully says the Commonwealth has backed the move by the Forum but has issued it's own timetable.

He says the Commowealth will not meet again till September, but it has not ruled out meeting earlier.

"If there is unsatisfactory progress and specifically if the Forum is moved to the suspension that is being threatened, so I think we need to see this as some leadership from by the Forum leaders, being responded to and followed and supported today by the Commonwealth."

New Zealand's Foreign Minister, Murray McCully.

Fiji is already banned from Commonwealth ministerial meetings due to the 2006 coup.