Fiji faces suspension from a 16-nation regional forum by year's end unless its military government can show progress toward holding democratic elections, Pacific leaders warned Thursday.
In an unanimous statement, Pacific Islands Forum leaders also condemned recent statements by Fiji coup leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama that reversed his 2007 pledge to hold elections by March 2009.
It was the first time a member nation has been threatened with suspension in the group's 39-year history, reflecting the exasperation of leaders at Bainimarama's actions.
Bainimarama, who took power in a bloodless coup in December 2006, withdrew his election pledge early this month, saying he needed more time to reform what he calls a racist, unfair political system.
He then boycotted this week's meeting, claiming Fiji was being pressured to hold elections before it could complete electoral reforms.
Bainimarama also threatened to pull out of the bloc if it pressed his country to return to democracy too quickly, adding that some smaller Pacific states were concerned that regional powers Australia and New Zealand were continuing to "victimize" Fiji.
But forum chairman Toke Talagi, the premier of Niue, said the group was unanimous in demanding the military-led state live up to its word or face possible suspension.
The decision was not a bid to further isolate Fiji but showed the bloc hopes it can re-engage with the wayward state, Talagi said.
"We all agreed to the communiqu