5 Mar 2009

Six month deadline issued to Fiji by Commonwealth

5:38 am on 5 March 2009

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

A statement issued on Wednesday after a meeting in London of ministers from nine Commonwealth countries said the group "deplored the fact that Fiji remained in contravention of Commonwealth values and principles."

However, the statement stopped short of fully suspending Fiji's membership immediately.

Fiji is already banned from Commonwealth ministerial meetings due to the coup, but still receives technical aid from a number of countries. This aid would be halted if Fiji is fully suspended.

The ministers noted that Fiji had ignored a deadline to hold elections by March 2009 and said they wanted sufficient progress by their next meeting in September 2009.

The elected government in Fiji was removed in a coup on 6 December, 2006. It was the fourth coup since 1987.