Fiji has been given a six month deadline or will face full suspension from the Commonwealth in September if it has not made more progress towards holding democratic elections.

The decision has been made at a meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group in London.

Foreign Affairs Minister, Murray McCully, says it is a rare move and one that is likely to get a hostile reaction from Fiji's military leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama. But he says there was little choice after a string of broken promises.

"This is a very rare event fortunately, but we're dealing with a fairly recalcitrant player here. There's been every conceivable attempt made to offer reason and support but finally, a line had to be drawn in the sand."

Fiji must specify an election date by May 1.