Fiji rejects Commonwealth

BY MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 10:41 05/03/2009

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Fiji's military ruler Voreqe Bainimarama has bluntly told the Commonwealth to kick his nation out of the body.

He has rejected holding elections.

A Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group met in London overnight and gave Fiji a six-month deadline 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.

Bainimarama, who overthrew a democratic government in 2006, told Auckland's Radio Tarana he was expecting Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma to phone him soon.

"I will tell him in no uncertain terms nothing's going to change," he told the radio station.

"If they want to suspend Fiji this coming December they can do it now. No one is going to interfere in what we are trying to do, not New Zealand, not Australia, not anybody else. Nothing is going to be done. There's going to be no election."

He said elections would not be this year at all.

"If we go into elections now it is not going to serve any purpose, it's probably going to make things worse for the people of Fiji."

The Commonwealth 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.''

 

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