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Cablegate: Commonwealth Suspends Fiji

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LONDON 002040

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/AND AND FOR EUR/WE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV FJ UK
SUBJECT: COMMONWEALTH SUSPENDS FIJI

REF: A. LONDON 580
B. LONDON 1385

1. (SBU) Commonwealth Secretariat Political Director Amitav
Banerji confirmed September 1 to Poloff that Commonwealth
Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma announced the Republic of
Fiji Islands' full suspension from membership of the
Commonwealth, effective 00:01 September 1, 2009 (Fiji time).
Banerji said the Commonwealth hopes to maintain a dialogue
with Fiji and plans to send a delegation in September to
engage with the Interim Government.

2. (U) The Commonwealth released the following statement:

Fiji Suspended from the Commonwealth
1 September 2009

The Commonwealth Secretary General, Kamalesh Sharma, today
announced that the Republic of the Fiji Islands stands fully
suspended from membership of the Commonwealth with immediate
effect.

"This is an announcement I make with deep regret -- it is a
step the Commonwealth is now obliged to take, and one that it
takes in sorrow."

"Since Fiji was suspended from the Councils of the
Commonwealth following the military overthrow of civilian
government in December 2006, sustained efforts have been made
by the Commonwealth to engage the Interim Government, so as
to promote a return to constitutional democracy, and to
encourage a national dialogue aimed at tackling the
underlying issues that led to this and past coups."

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) last met on
31 July, some two and three quarter years after the military
overthrow. At that meeting, CMAG urged the Fiji regime to
reactivate immediately the President's Political Dialogue
Forum (PPDF) process, facilitated by the Commonwealth and the
United Nations, in a manner that was independent, inclusive,
time-bound and without any pre-determined outcome, and that
would lead to credible elections in the country by October
2010. CMAG had sought a firm commitment from Fiji to these
terms by no later than 1 September 2009, failing which it
would be fully suspended.

"Although I received a letter from Commodore Bainimarama on
21 August reaffirming his commitment to the principles of the
Commonwealth, his response did not meet the terms set out by
CMAG on 31 July. I informed him of this in writing on 24
August. Accordingly, Fiji has today been fully suspended
from the Commonwealth. I have informed the Interim Prime
Minister of Fiji of this decision. I have similarly informed
Her Majesty the Queen as Head of the Commonwealth, and all
Commonwealth governments."

Elaborating on the implications of "full suspension," the
Secretary General said the following provisions would apply
with immediate effect: representatives of the Interim
Government of Fiji will be excluded from participation at all
inter-governmental Commonwealth meetings; likewise, nominees
of the Interim Government will not be able to take part in
other inter-governmental Commonwealth activities; Fiji will
not be able to participate in Commonwealth sporting events;
no Commonwealth technical assistance can be provided to Fiji,
with the exception of assistance aimed at facilitating the
restoration of democracy; 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 organizations.

The Secretary General emphasized that the Commonwealth
remained open to engaging with the Fiji Interim Government
towards the restoration of constitutional democracy in the
country. "I welcome the invitation from Commodore
Bainimarama to meet my Special Representative in Fiji in
September, and look forward to continuing my good offices
engagement to promote adherence to Commonwealth principles

LONDON 00002040 002 OF 002


and the welfare of the people of Fiji," Mr. Sharma said.

The Secretary General concluded by expressing the hope that
Fiji would take the necessary steps to restore its full
participation in the Commonwealth. "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."

End Statement.


Visit London's Classified Website:
http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/Portal:Unit ed_Kingdom

SUSMAN

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