FIJI SUSPENDED FROM COMMONWEALTH

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Bainimarama’s staunch stance comes at price

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, September 2, 2009) – Fiji’s membership in the Commonwealth has now been fully suspended with immediate effect, it has been confirmed.

And as a result:

Commonwealth Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma said Prime Mister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama's letter to him on August 21 reaffirming his commitment to the principles of the Commonwealth, did not meet the terms set out by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) on 31 July.

Bainimarama was informed of this in writing on August 24, he said.

"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."

"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," Sharma said in a statement.

He said at the CMAG's July 31 meeting, "the Fiji regime was urged to reactivate immediately the President’s 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 1 September 2009, failing which it would be fully suspended.

"Accordingly, Fiji has today been fully suspended from the Commonwealth."

Sharma also emphasised that the Commonwealth remained open to engaging with the Fiji Government towards the restoration of constitutional democracy in the country.

"I welcome the invitation from Commodore Bainimarama to meet my Special Representative in Fiji in September, and look forward to continuing my good offices engagement to promote adherence to Commonwealth principles and the welfare of the people of Fiji", Sharma said.

"We will continue all possible efforts to promote the restoration of Commonwealth principles and enduring adherence to them. We will also continue to bear fully in mind the welfare of the people of Fiji."

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