Fiji's President abrogates constitution

Friday, April 10, 2009

Fijian President Ratu Josefa Iloilo has abrogated the country's constitution and signalled the appointment of a new interim government.

The move comes in response to yesterday's 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.

In a televised address to the nation, President Iloilo declared he was abrogating the constitution, and appointed himself as head of state. All judicial appointments were revoked, but existing laws would remain. He said he would appoint a new interim government in the coming days to pave the way for "true democratic and parliamentary elections" to be held by September 2014.

Iloilo claimed to have the "full support" of the security forces and directed the military to take "all reasonable steps" to maintain law and order. He said he was taking these steps to implement the reforms of the People's Charter for Change, Peace and Progress. He promised that the basic human rights of all citizens would be protected.

Iloilo praised Bainimarama's interim government, saying that it had brought about reforms. "It has had a positive impact on the lives of our people, in particular the ordinary citizens of our country, including those in the rural areas," he said.

Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua Party director Peceli Kinivuwai called the move "a sad day for Fiji" which sent the country into "unchartered waters". "He [the president] has set a serious precedent, where he has decided to take sides other then allow the rule of law to prevail," Kinivuwai said.

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


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