Fiji Coup Prompts International Condemnation

The military takeover of the democratically-elected government on the island nation of Fiji has prompted widespread international condemnation.

British Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon told reporters Tuesday it is likely Fiji will be suspended from the organization of former British colonies in response to the coup.

Britain's Foreign Office issued a statement calling the coup a setback to democracy in the Pacific nation. It announced an immediate suspension of bilateral military assistance to Fiji and said further measures are being discussed with Britain's EU partners.

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark also strongly condemned the coup and cut defense ties with the Fijian military.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer had said earlier that Canberra would impose a similar sanction on Fiji if the coup went ahead.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard also criticized the coup, but turned down a request from ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase for Australian troops to intervene.

Mr. Howard said he does not think it is in Australia's interest to become involved. Fiji's military leader, Frank Bainimarama, has warned that any foreign intervention in Fiji will be fiercely opposed by his forces.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.