The group concluded that Fiji’s suspension from the Councils of the Commonwealth should be lifted in recognition of the credible elections held on 17 September 2014 and the assumption of office by a democratically elected government.
The Pacific island state was suspended from the Councils of the Commonwealth in 2006 following a military coup d’état. This meant that Fiji could not attend intergovernmental Commonwealth meetings, including Heads of Government meetings and ministerial meetings.
A full suspension followed in 2009 following the abrogation of the Constitution, also excluding the country from sporting events and other Commonwealth activities. Earlier this year, Fiji’s full suspension was scaled back, enabling the country to participate in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group met in the wings of the 69th United Nations General Assembly. The group of nine foreign ministers, chaired by Bernard Membe, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Tanzania, is tasked with assessing serious or persistent violations of the Commonwealth’s fundamental political values.
Fiji was the only country on the formal agenda of CMAG.
The group congratulated the newly elected Government of Voreqe Bainimarama and called on all stakeholders in Fiji to continue working together to strengthen the country’s democratic culture, encouraging them to explore opportunities for dialogue and national reconciliation. They particularly commended Fiji’s eight elected female Members of Parliament and the appointment of Fiji’s first female Speaker, Dr Jiko Luveni.
At their meeting, the Commonwealth Secretary-General briefed ministers on issues of concern in member countries. The group will meet again in London in early 2015.
Current members of CMAG are: Bernard K Membe, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Republic of Tanzania (Chair); Ioannis Kasoulides, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus; Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guyana; Shrimati Sushma Swaraj, Minister of Foreign Affairs of India; Hon Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand (Vice Chair).
Also Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on National Security and Foreign Affairs; Dr Samura Kamara, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Sierra Leone, Clay Forau Soalaoi, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Solomon Islands; and Professor G.L. Peiris, Minister of External Affairs of Sri Lanka.