Fiji is likely to be suspended from the Commonwealth, its special envoy Sir Paul Reeves says.

Fiji's membership within the Pacific Islands Forum was also in doubt, Sir Paul, who is the Commonwealth secretary-general's special envoy to Fiji, said this morning.

The latest turmoil in Fiji was prompted by its Court of Appeal ruling last Thursday that Commodore Frank Bainimarama's regime, in power since staging a 2006 coup, was illegal under the country's 1997 constitution.

In response, 88-year-old president Ratu Josefa Iloilo sacked the judges, dissolved the constitution, ruled out any election for five years and briefly removed Cdre Bainimarama before re-appointing him as prime minister.

Sir Paul, who keeps in constant touch with the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, said the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (Cmag) was due to consider Fiji in September and decide what action to take if no progress towards democratic elections was made.

That meeting was now likely to be bought forward.

Cmag provides a mechanism for dealing with Commonwealth member states which contravene the core obligations of Commonwealth membership, in particular the 1991 Harare Declaration which sets out principles of good governance.

A further lessening of the relationship with the Commonwealth would see Fiji get less assistance, technical help and leave it more isolated.

"I think that's bad actually for Fiji and I just hope it doesn't last long but the Commonwealth has certain standards of membership," Sir Paul said.

"It has to maintain its adherence to those standards so I think it is highly probable that Fiji will be excluded. The fine print of that of course remains to be determined by the Commonwealth itself."

Sir Paul expected the Forum would also act.

"I think the Pacific Islands Forum has probably reached the end of the road as far as waiting for Fiji to come into line, especially over a commitment to hold elections. It was to be by May this year."

At the weekend Forum secretary-general Tuiloma Neroni Slade expressed concern and disappointment over Fiji's actions.

However, the forum has been reluctant to suspend Fiji. Its last meeting set a May deadline for progress on elections which will not now be met. Sir Paul said it would be unprecedented for the closely knit regional body to suspend a member as it was seen as an "un-Pacific" approach.

"For the Pacific Islands Forum it is a really big step to take," he said.

Sir Paul chaired the Fiji Constitution Review Commission from 1995 until 1997, culminating in Fiji's readmission to the Commonwealth, until its suspension in 2000.

He said last weeks' events were saddening.

"My first reaction was one of great sorrow," he said.

"It is now a military regime and I agree with (Foreign Minister Murray) Mr McCully when he calls it a dictatorship."

Mr McCully this morning warned New Zealanders of risks travelling to Fiji and raised the spectre of further sanctions.

Sir Paul said in a way Fiji's regimes actions, stripping its citizens of rights and blatantly censoring the media gave a clearer picture. In the past the regime was able to "shelter behind" a High Court decision in its favour.

"Previously they were trying to shelter behind the facade of legality ... now we see them for what they are."

Sir Paul said the work he was involved in on Fiji's constitution had aimed to gradually remove race bias in elections.

"But once our report got into the hands of the politicians they overturned some of our recommendations and on they went and have produced the situation that we have now."

He said Cdre Bainimarama, who says he is trying to remove race bias, could have made the change constitutionally.

Now there was a "people's charter" in place of the constitution.

"That seems to me to be a very pale document in comparison with the constitution," he said.

"Effectively they have no constitution, they are dependent upon the edicts of a military government and I think increasingly that's going to be very uncomfortable for Fiji."

The Ministry Foreign Affairs and Trade yesterday upgraded its travel advice for Fiji.

The ministry's advisory said there was potential for a rapid deterioration to civil disorder and violence in Fiji and urged New Zealand travellers to register their travel plans with the ministry.

- NZPA