Malaysia wanted delay in Pakistan suspension

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KAMPALA, Nov 25 (Reuters) Malaysia wanted the Commonwealth to delay suspension of Pakistan over emergency rule last week, but went along with a majority decision, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said today.

A Commonwealth ministerial group suspended Pakistan on the eve of a three-day summit in Kampala on Thursday because it had failed to meet a deadline for ending emergency rule.

''We wanted the suspension delayed,'' the prime minister told a news conference. But he added: ''Anyway, we have to go along with the decision of the majority. That's it.'' Sources at last week's meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group said fellow Asian member Sri Lanka had also wanted to give President Pervez Musharraf more time to restore democracy after he began rolling back emergency rule.

The meeting ran five hours over schedule, apparently owing to divisions over Pakistan, but eventually issued a tough statement condemning the three-week old state of emergency and saying it violated the Commonwealth's fundamental principles.

Pakistan reacted angrily, saying the decision was ''unreasonable and unjustified''. It said it would review its association with the Commonwealth, a club comprising mostly former British colonies.

The Malaysian leader also said he would have liked a stronger statement on climate change from the Commonwealth, which issued only a vague declaration on Saturday and failed to call for any binding commitments on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

''In some way I do feel a little bit disappointed,'' he said in reply to a question.

The Commonwealth prides itself on making decisions by consensus, which critics say often leads to taking the lowest common denominator.

Reuters SYU GC1758

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