#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: Fiji will be 'dumped from Commonwealth'

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fiji will be 'dumped from Commonwealth'

Australia is maintaining its hardline on suspending Fiji from the Pacific Islands Forum and the Commonwealth.

Fiji had brought it on itself by suspending the constitution, attacking the independence of judges and curtailing press freedom, said Prime Minister Kevin Rudd after talks with his Papua New Guinea counterpart in Canberra on Tuesday.

"Australia's position is hardline," he told reporters at a joint press conference with Sir Michael Somare.

"You cannot sustain within a family of democracies within the Pacific Islands Forum or a family of democracies within the Commonwealth a government like that of Fiji, which simply treats with contempt the most fundamental democratic institutions and press freedoms of its people."

Mr Rudd said he had discussed the Fiji situation with Sir Michael and PNG was also adopting a strong line.

Fiji had failed to respond to the forum's January declaration calling for it to return to democratic rule and announce a timetable for an election.

"In fact the Fijian government has gone in precisely the reverse direction," he said.
Sir Michael said he'd toughened his stance on Fiji.

The Rudd government declared Fiji under effective military dictatorship after the country's leader Frank Bainimarama assumed more power earlier this month.

The PNG prime minister said he wasn't happy Commodore Bainimarama had suspended the constitution.

"I've always had the door open for Fiji to negotiate with them to make sure the people of Fiji are given an opportunity to stay within the forum," Sir Michael said.

"But I think the exercise they've taken recently, particularly the suspension of the constitution and the dismissal of the judges, leaves no room for others."

Sir Michael agreed if Fiji did not announce a date for elections the Pacific Islands Forum would have "no option" but to suspend the Pacific island nation later this week.

"We have bent over backwards (to help)," he said.

"I have tried my best, but they have decided to suspend the constitution."

Sydney Morning Herald

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