Fiji given six-month democracy deadline
From correspondents in London | March 05, 2009
THE Commonwealth gave Fiji a six-month deadline overnight to restore democracy or face the full suspension of its membership, in the wake of a coup in 2006.
"The Group deplored the fact that Fiji remained in contravention of Commonwealth values and principles," said a statement issued after a meeting in London of ministers and representatives from nine Commonwealth countries.
The threat from the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group stopped short of many countries' calls for Fiji's membership to be fully suspended immediately.
The Pacific island state is already banned from Commonwealth ministerial meetings due to the coup, but technical aid such as training that it still receives from its fellow countries would also be halted if its full membership were suspended.
The ministers noted that Fiji had ignored a deadline to hold elections by March 2009 and said that "should sufficient progress not take place ... Fiji Islands will be fully suspended from the Commonwealth at the Group's next meeting in September 2009".
The ministers said that they were also prepared to convene an earlier meeting if Fiji failed to produce a roadmap towards restoring a democratic government.
Fiji received about £500,000 ($1.1 million) in direct technical aid from 2000 to 2006, but was also eligible for a share of a pan-Commonwealth pot of about £32 million ($70.12 million).