The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma, announced on 1st September 2009 that the Republic of the Fiji Islands stands fully suspended from membership of the Commonwealth with immediate effect.
Fiji had been temporarily suspended from the Commonwealth since a military coup in December 2006, but failure to engage fully with UN and Commonwealth efforts to ensure democratic elections by October 2010 have resulted in a full suspension.
Elaborating on the implications of “full suspension”, the Secretary-General said the following provisions would apply with immediate effect:
· Fiji will not be able to participate in Commonwealth sporting events;
· while Fiji will remain a member of the Commonwealth, all emblematic representation of Fiji at the Commonwealth Secretariat, at Commonwealth meetings and all other official Commonwealth events will cease; and
· contact at professional and non-governmental levels with Fiji counterparts will be left to the discretion of individual pan-Commonwealth organisations.
· no Commonwealth technical assistance can be provided to Fiji, with the exception of assistance aimed at facilitating the restoration of democracy;
· representatives of the Interim Government of Fiji will be excluded from participation at all intergovernmental Commonwealth meetings; likewise, nominees of the Interim Government will not be able to take part in other intergovernmental Commonwealth activities;
This will affect the eligibility of Fijian athletes for the 2010 Commonwealth games in India.
Fiji was also suspended from the 16-nation Pacific Islands Forum in May and the European Union has suspended some aid.
The Secretary-General has informed the Queen of Fiji’s suspension from the Commonwealth, but hopes Fiji will soon return to the political fold with meetings between both parties still scheduled for mid-September. “I have informed the Interim Prime Minister of Fiji of this decision. I have similarly informed Her Majesty the Queen as the Head of the Commonwealth, and all Commonwealth governments… We will continue all possible efforts to promote the restoration of Commonwealth principles and enduring adherence to them. We will also continue to bear fully in mind the welfare of the people of Fiji.”