x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

No Fiji elections result in suspension

Fiji is set to be suspended from the Commonwealth, the 16-nation Pacific Islands Forum, after it broke an earlier promise to hold elections by March this year.

Fiji is set to be suspended from the Commonwealth after the South Pacific island nation confirmed today it would not bow to international demands to call elections by October next year. Fiji's military leader Voreqe Bainimarama, who overthrew the elected government in a December 2006 coup, has said he intends to hold elections by September 2014. The Commonwealth earlier this year warned that Fiji would be suspended if it did not agree to the 2010 election timetable.

Mr Bainimarama told local media that Fiji did not plan to budge from its so-called road map leading to elections in 2014. "The Fiji government believes the road map is the only path to ensuring sustainable and true democracy, which includes... to have elections in 2014," he told commercial radio. "We will remain with that." Fiji was suspended from the 16-nation Pacific Islands Forum in May after Mr Bainimarama broke an earlier promise to hold elections by March this year and the European Union has suspended aid to the military regime.

Fiji has already been banned from Commonwealth ministerial meetings due to the 2006 coup. If full membership were suspended, technical aid such as training that it receives from its fellow countries would also be halted. The Commonwealth is a grouping of 53 former British colonies, dependencies and other territories. It suspended Zimbabwe in 2002, but President Robert Mugabe then unilaterally withdrew. It has twice suspended Pakistan.

* AFP