Fiji's president quits

Fiji's President Josefa Iloilo is to quit his post, military dictator Voreqe Bainimarama has just told a press conference in Suva.

The 88-year-old, who has held office since the George Speight coup in 2000, is known to be seriously ill.

Bainimarama, who staged his own coup in 2006, has always claimed Iloilo supported the overthrow of democracy.

He said Iloilo had "undying fervour and commitment to correct the injustices of the past."

Although unstated, this is seen as a criticism of the overthrown democratic government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.

Normally the president is appointed by the Great Council of Chiefs, but Bainimarama has ordered the closure of the organisation.

He said the new president would be a former military commander, Epeli Nailatikau, who is married to a daughter of Fiji's founding prime minister and president, Kamisese Mara.

Bainimarama said the move was a "truly significant event, the symbolic passing of the torch from a statesman who has made a tremendous contribution to the nation and to the lives of all Fijians".

In a statement he said the people of Fiji had tremendous respect for Iloilo.

"They know him as a compassionate leader and a true chief."

 

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