C`Wealth issues ultimatum to Fiji to hold polls

Last Updated: Saturday, August 1, 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 1, 2009 - 12:09

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