Fiji suspended from Commonwealth

Friday, December 8, 2006

At an urgent meeting held today in London the Commonwealth has decided to suspend Fiji, following the military coup that took place in Fiji three days ago. The suspension is immediate.

The decision was made unanimously by the Ministerial Action Group. The group contained eight foreign ministers from Commonwealth countries, including United Kingdom.

Don McKinnon, secretary general of the Commonwealth, described the coup as a: "a serious violation of the Commonwealth's fundamental principles." Mr McKinnon said: "Fiji's military regime should forthwith be suspended from the Councils of the Commonwealth pending the restoration of democracy and the rule of law in that country. It would be our endeavour to obviously engage with the regime as soon as we can in order to do what we can to bring the country back to democracy."

The suspension results in Fiji not taking part in any Commonwealth meetings nor activities. However existing technical assistance will continue but no new assistance programmes will be started.

The military coup that took place a few days ago has already been condemned by Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Fiji's Council of Chiefs and religious groups. New Zealand has barred the military leader and president of Fiji, Commander Frank Bainimarama, from visiting New Zealand where some of his family live and has also banned seasonal workers coming from Fiji to work in New Zealand.

Commander Bainimarama has sworn in Doctor Jona Senilagakali as the caretaker Prime Minster. Dr Senilagakali is an old military medic and relatively new at politics.