Fiji suspended from Pacific Islands Forum

The Pacific Islands Forum suspends Fiji’s membership indefinitely due to the recent political, legal and human rights situation in the country.

In August 2008, the Forum threatened to suspend Fiji if the latter did not commit to holding a general election by March 2009. Subsequently, at a special leaders’ meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum, held in Papua-New Guinea in January 2009, Forum leaders set a deadline of 1 May, by which date Fiji must set a date for elections before the end of the year.

Fiji rejected the deadline. Consequently, on May 1, Fiji was suspended indefinitely from participation in the Forum. The suspension was enforced with immediate effect from 2 May 2009.

Toke Talagi, the Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum and Premier of Niue, described the suspension as “also particularly timely given the recent disturbing deterioration of the political, legal and human rights situation in Fiji since April 10, 2009”.

He described Fiji as “a regime which displays such a total disregard for basic human rights, democracy and freedom” which he believed contravened membership of the Pacific Islands Forum. Talagi emphasised, however, that Fiji had not been expelled and that it would be welcomed back into the fold when it returned to the path of “constitutional democracy, through free and fair elections”.

The 2009 suspension of Fiji marked the first time that a country had been suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum in the history of the 38-year-old organization.

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