Fiji has been suspended from the Commonwealth after the South Pacific island nation's military government failed to respond to a demand to begin restoring democracy, according to the organization's head.

"This is a step the Commonwealth is now obliged to take in defence of its fundamental values and principles, and one that it takes in sorrow," Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma said in a videotaped statement on Tuesday.

The  53-nation Commonwealth had demanded Fiji meet conditions, such as resuming a dialogue with opposition groups and holding early elections, by midnight local time, or face suspension.

Sharma said Fiji responded to the request by the deadline, but it did not meet all of the group's requirements.

Fiji has been under military rule since self-appointed Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, the country's armed forces chief, seized power in a 2006 coup. His government had promised elections earlier this year.

Sharma said the Commonwealth remained open to "engaging with the Fiji interim government towards the restoration of constitutional democracy in the country."

Under the suspension, representatives and nominees of Fiji's interim government will be excluded from participation at all inter-governmental Commonwealth meetings and activities.

While Fiji will technically remain a Commonwealth member, the country will not be able to participate in Commonwealth sporting events, and all emblematic representation of Fiji at Commonwealth events and meetings will cease, the organization said.