Thursday, March 05, 2009

Hold elections, or else: C’wealth to Fiji

Hold elections, or else: C’wealth to Fiji

Fiji has been given six months to adhere to the Pacific Islands Forum deadline to hold elections by December 2009 or face full suspension from the Commonwealth.

In a statement released by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group today, the CMAG General Secretary Kamalesh Sharma said this action would be taken in September if it did not follow the benchmarks set out by the Pacific Islands Forum.

“CMAG has noted that the Millbrook Action Programme provided a two year period for the restoration of democracy, failing which various measures for non-compliance can be considered and in Fiji’s case the period has finished in December last year,” he said.

CMAG specified that “should sufficient progress not take place, consistent with the benchmarks set out in the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Communiqué, Fiji would be fully suspended when the Group next meets in September”.

The Forum, in late January resolved that Fiji must hold elections by December 2009 and nominate a timetable by May 1 or face the likelihood of suspension from the 16-member regional group.

The regional leaders, in a communiqué, said that “…more than two years of rule by an unelected military government, with no clear timetable for the return of constitutional government to the people, is not acceptable by international standards including those embraced by all Forum members and enshrined in the Biketawa Declaration....”.

But even after the Forum ultimatum, Fiji’s no-nonsense military leader interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said Fiji’s position will not change as it will have electoral reforms first before elections.

This he said would take another 12 to 15 months.

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