BAINIMARAMA UNMOVED BY COMMONWEALTH THREAT

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Won’t be swayed from Fiji roadmap

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, August 2, 2009) – Fiji Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama says the warning by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group to suspend Fiji will not distract him from the roadmap he has outlined for the country.

Bainimarama told FijiLive that he is not moved at all.

"People have tried to change us from the last 18 months but what we have set out to do, will not change," he said.

However, he said the government has not received any letter from the CMAG to inform him of their decision.

The Commonwealth renewed a warning to Fiji yesterday that it would be suspended from the grouping in September, if it failed to commit to holding new elections by next year following the 2006 coup.

In March, the Commonwealth gave Fiji a six-month deadline to restore democracy, three years after military leader Bainimarama overthrew the elected government.

In a statement agreed after seven hours of talks, ministers called for Fiji to inform it in writing by September 1 that it would hold elections by October 2010.

"In the absence of such confirmation, Fiji will be fully suspended on that date," they said.

There had been some signs that the CMAG would agree to suspend Fiji immediately, but the nine-member group has to agree by consensus, meaning any one country can block a decision.

Informed sources told AFP the ministerial group was split down the middle, with countries including New Zealand in favour of suspension, but others including Malaysia, which chairs the CMAG, against.

Fiji has already been banned from Commonwealth ministerial meetings due to the coup. The action came after Bainimarama ignored a deadline to hold elections by March this year.

Bainimarama has since issued a roadmap to elections in 2014, which includes a new constitution that assures racial equality and reforms that will address the country’s coup culture.

If full membership were suspended, technical aid such as training that it still receives from its fellow countries would also be halted.

The Commonwealth, a grouping of 53 former British colonies, dependencies and other territories, suspended Zimbabwe in 2002, but President Robert Mugabe then unilaterally withdrew. It has twice suspended Pakistan.

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