C`Wealth issues ultimatum to Fiji to hold polls
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Last Updated: Saturday, August 01, 2009, 12:09
  
London: The Commonwealth has issued an ultimatum to the military regime of Fiji to either commit itself within a month for "credible elections" in the country before October 2010 or face "full suspension" from the 53-member body.

This was announced by Anifah Aman, Foreign Affairs Minister of Malaysia and Chairman of Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), after an extraordinary seven-hour meeting of the grouping here last evening.

Aman said the Fiji regime has been asked to immediately reactivate the President's Political Dialogue Forum (PPDF) process for talks with the opposition, facilitated by the Commonwealth and the United Nations.

"CMAG stressed that such a dialogue must be independent, inclusive, time-bound and without any pre-determined outcome, and lead to credible elections in the country no later than October 2010," he told reporters.

He said the Fiji regime has been asked to state its "firm commitment to reactivating the PPDF by no later than September 1, 2009, in writing to the Commonwealth Secretary-General. In the absence of such confirmation, Fiji will be fully suspended on that date."

Replying to queries, Aman said at present Fiji is "partially suspended" and once it is fully suspended it would have no contacts at all with the Commonwealth and the body would cut sporting and technical aid like training.

Fiji silent on Commonwealth ultimatum

Suva: The Fiji government said on Saturday it would not react to the latest suspension threat from the Commonwealth until directly informed of the ultimatum.

The Commonwealth has renewed its warning that Fiji will be suspended from the grouping in September if it fails to commit to holding new elections by next year following a 2006 coup.

Fiji Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum was quoted by the Fiji Village website as saying the government had not received official word on the suspension threat and would only comment when there had been talks with the Commonwealth.

In a statement agreed after seven hours of talks in London yesterday, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) 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.

Informed sources said 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.

New Zealand representative, Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully, said it was a chance for Fiji to rethink the path the Pacific island nation was taking, but he told the New Zealand Press Association he was not optimistic of change.

Bureau Report


First Published: Saturday, August 01, 2009, 12:09


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