He said he expected other bodies including the Commonwealth, the United Nations and European Union to follow the forum's lead and move to further isolate Fiji.

"The deadline has been set and it doesn't look like we're going to see anything that will stave it off"

Murray McCully,
New Zealand foreign minister

The UN has already said it will bar Fijian soldiers from future peacekeeping missions, which have been a lucrative source of income for the military.

Australia and Fiji's Pacific neighbours have said they are prepared for an angry reaction from Commodore Frank Bainimarama, the head of Fiji's military, if the country is suspended from the Pacific forum.

Earlier this month Fiji was plunged into fresh political crisis after the president reappointed Bainimarama as interim prime minister, less than two days after a court ruled his 2006 coup and subsequent government was illegal.

Bainimarama had promised to hold elections later this year, but has now ruled them out until at least 2012.

He has since imposed new emergency restrictions, including sending troops and police into media and government offices to gag opposition to his reform plans.

Fiji, a former British colony, has suffered four coups and a military mutiny since 1987, fuelled by tensions between indigenous Fijians and economically powerful ethnic Indians.