2 September, 2009
Fiji’s full suspension from the Commonwealth
Fiji’s full suspension from the Commonwealth, effective today, is the sad but inevitable result of the failure of Commodore Bainimarama to return Fiji to democracy.
In July, the Commonwealth provided the Commodore and his regime with a final opportunity to commit to a prompt return to democracy.
Instead, the military regime has restated its position that elections will not be held until 2014 - more than seven years after the December 2006 coup. This is completely unacceptable.
This suspension follows Fiji’s suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum in May this year.
In line with the Commonwealth, the Pacific Islands Forum, the European Union and the United Nations, Australia continues to be very concerned about human rights abuses by the regime, particularly the reduced independence of the judiciary, media censorship, intimidation of opponents, and the recent harassment of Methodist Church leaders.
Increased international pressure is necessary and the full suspension from the Commonwealth is another strong message from the international community that the military regime must work with political stakeholders in Fiji and the international community to return Fiji to democracy and the rule of law.
As a result of full suspension, Fiji will be excluded from all Commonwealth meetings and from the Commonwealth Games and other sporting events. Fiji will also not be eligible for most Commonwealth technical assistance, except for that directed to helping it return to democracy.
Despite the increasing international pressure on the military regime, Australia will continue to offer support to the people of Fiji including through the continuation of our development assistance program.
As the Government has already made plain, Australia stands ready to provide support to a credible dialogue process and I welcome the planned visit by a Commonwealth delegation to Fiji later this month.
Australia also remains ready to provide support to the electoral process in Fiji if Commodore Bainimarama finally heeds the call of the Commonwealth and the Forum and his own citizens and commits to a credible election process.
- Mr Smith's office 02 6277 7500
- Departmental Media Liaison 02 6261 1555