Fiji faces expulsion from Commonwealth

April 14th, 2009 - 1:13 pm ICT by ANI  

Wellington, Apr 14 (ANI): Commonwealth secretary-general’s special envoy to Fiji Sir Paul Reeves has said that the island nation faces expulsion from the Commonwealth.

Fiji is likely to be suspended from the Commonwealth, and its membership within the Pacific Islands Forum was also in doubt, Sir Paul said.

The latest turmoil in Fiji was prompted by a Court of Appeal ruling last Thursday that said Commodore Frank Bainimarama’s regime, which has been in power since staging a 2006 coup, was illegal under the country’s 1997 Constitution.

In response, Fiji’s 88-year-old president Ratu Josefa Iloilo sacked the judges, dissolved the Constitution, ruled out any election for five years and briefly removed Bainimarama before re-appointing him as Prime Minister.

Sir Paul, who keeps in constant touch with the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, said the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) was due to consider Fiji in September and decide what action to take if no progress towards democratic elections was made.

That meeting is now likely to be bought forward, The Dominion Post reports.

The CMAG provides a mechanism for dealing with Commonwealth member states, which contravene the core obligations of Commonwealth membership, in particular the 1991 Harare Declaration, which sets out principles of good governance.

A further lessening of the relationship with the Commonwealth would see Fiji get less assistance, technical help and leave it more isolated.

“I think that’s bad actually for Fiji and I just hope it doesn’t last long but the Commonwealth has certain standards of membership,” Sir Paul said.

“It has to maintain its adherence to those standards so I think it is highly probable that Fiji will be excluded. The fine print of that of course remains to be determined by the Commonwealth itself,” he added.

At the weekend Forum secretary-general Tuiloma Neroni Slade expressed concern and disappointment over Fiji’s actions. (ANI)

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