Wednesday, 2 September 2009 10:02 AM

Fiji Fully Suspended from Commonwealth

Fiji is now suspended from full membership of the Commonwealth after failing to meet the terms set out by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) in July.

According to Fiji Times Online, the suspension was announced today with Commonwealth Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma, stating that it was an announcement he made "with deep regret " and 'it is a step the Commonwealth is now obliged to take, and one that it takes in sorrow'.

The following is the statement made by the Secretary-General, as reported by Fiji Times Online:

"Since Fiji was suspended from the Councils of the Commonwealth following the military overthrow of civilian government in December 2006, sustained efforts have been made by the Commonwealth to engage the Interim Government, so as to promote a return to constitutional democracy, and to encourage a national dialogue aimed at tackling the underlying issues that led to this and past coups.

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) last met on July 31, some two and three quarter years after the military overthrow. At that meeting, CMAG urged the Fiji regime to reactivate immediately the Presidents Political Dialogue Forum (PPDF) process, facilitated by the Commonwealth and the United Nations, in a manner that was independent, inclusive, time-bound and without any pre-determined outcome, and that would lead to credible elections in the country by October 2010.

CMAG had sought a firm commitment from Fiji to these terms by no later than September 1, failing which it would be fully suspended.

Although I received a letter from Commodore Bainimarama on August 21 reaffirming his commitment to the principles of the Commonwealth, his response did not meet the terms set out by CMAG on July 31, and I informed him of this in writing on 24 August.

"Accordingly, Fiji has today been fully suspended from the Commonwealth. I have informed the interim Prime Minister of Fiji of this decision. I have similarly informed Her Majesty the Queen as the Head of the Commonwealth, and all Commonwealth governments.

According to the report, Fiji's full suspension means that:

- representatives of the interim Government of Fiji will be excluded from participation at all inter-governmental Commonwealth meetings; likewise, nominees of the Interim Government will not be able to take part in other inter-governmental Commonwealth activities;

- Fiji will not be able to participate in Commonwealth sporting events;

- no Commonwealth technical assistance can be provided to Fiji, with the exception of assistance aimed at facilitating the restoration of democracy; while Fiji will remain a member of the Commonwealth, all emblematic representation of Fiji at the Commonwealth Secretariat, at Commonwealth meetings and all other official Commonwealth events will cease; and

- contact at professional and non-governmental levels with Fiji counterparts will be left to the discretion of individual pan-Commonwealth organisations.

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