The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), meeting in London, will today ponder whether to convert Nigeria's suspension into full-scale expulsion and impose sanctions.
The latest deadline is October, the date by which the regime of General Sani Abacha has promised to restore democracy. In practice, the eight- nation CMAG is split - between Britain and Canada who insist sanctions should have been imposed long ago, and members like Malaysia and Zimbabwe who feel the human rights weapon could one day be turned against them.
The most realistic outcome to be expected from the talks, British officials say, is agreement to send a team to Nigeria before the elections to spell out the Commonwealth's disapproval. Whatever the Commonwealth comes up with could be trumped by General Abacha, if he manages to line up all Nigeria's parties behind him as single candidate for the October elections. In that case he would stay in power, claim a plebiscite to boot, and leave CMAG even more at a loss over what to do.