Fijian regime appoints vice-president

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Interim minister for Indigenous Affairs Ratu Epeli Nailatikau has been appointed vice-president by Fiji's military regime.

Nailatikau, a former military commander, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Minister in the military regime, was sworn in at Government House this morning. He will continue to hold his portfolios in the interim Cabinet.

The appointment follows the promulgation of a decree establishing the office of vice-president and permitting them to perform the functions of the President of Fiji if the President is unable to.

The current president, Josefa Iloilo, is 88 years old and suffers from Parkinson's disease. He is rarely seen in public, and there is some speculation about his health.

Iloilo abrogated the country's constitution and revoked all judicial appointments last Friday in response to a Court of Appeal decision declaring the removal of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and the appointment of military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama as interim Prime Minister unlawful.

Previously the vice-president was appointed by the Great Council of Chiefs. An earlier attempt by the military regime to appoint Nailatikau as vice-president was rejected by the GCC in April, 2007, leading to the body's suspension.

Fiji's government was overthrown by a military coup in 2006.


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