4 Mar 2009

Commonwealth ministers gather to decide Fiji's future in the group

9:12 pm on 4 March 2009

Ministers from nine countries are to consider Fiji's future in the Commonwealth, at a meeting in London in a few hours' time.

A spokesperson for the international organisation, Eduardo Del Buey, says members of the Ministerial Action Group will be "guided by a pan-Commonwealth approach to the issue".

Mr Del Buey said ministers would also be "guided by" the Millbrook Declaration - which was made by the Commonwealth at the Millbank resort near Queenstown in New Zealand in 1995.

The Millbrook Declaration stipulates that in cases where member states may have violated democratic rights, the Commonwealth "can call for the suspension of that state's participation at all Commonwealth meetings and of Commonwealth technical assistance if acceptable progress is not recorded by the government concerned after a period of two years."

Mr Del Buey would not confirm whether Fiji's full suspension from the Commonwealth was one of the options on the table.

He says a report by a recent UN-Commonwealth delegation on its visit to Fiji will not be made available to the public before the meeting.

Mr Del Buey would only say that the mission was about "taking forward the President's request that the two organisations facilitate a President's Political Dialogue Forum."