Contrary to the announcement this afternoon by the interim regime’s head, Frank Bainimarama, that President Ratu Josefa Iloilo has announced his retirement, sources have told us that Iloilo was forced into early retirement by the regime.
We have confirmation that the Tui Vuda’s retirement as President and Commander in Chief of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces was planned by the regime soon after the appointment of Ratu Epeli Nailatikau as vice president in late April after the abrogation of the Constitution on April the 10th.
Sources have told us that the regime has been discussing a retirement package for Iloilo for more than two months.
And with the civil service reshuffle announced this week, in which Secretary to the President, Rupeni Nacewa was listed as retiring, our sources were on the verge of confirming that Government House will have a new occupant as President.
Commissioner Western Joeli Rokovada was announced as the new Secretary to the President.
Rokovada was replaced by Permanent Secretary for Justice Pio Tikoduadua - in what is seen as a demotion for the army officer. But he is now being seconded to the Office of the interim prime minister.
Bainimarama also told the media he visited Iloilo today. The ageing President who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, was visited by chiefs of the Western Division almost two months ago and the regime had then stated the chiefs were happy with Iloilo and wanted him to continue as President.
Nailatikau will now act as President. Bainimarama said the interim cabinet will advice the Chief Justice Anthony Gates about the new appointment.
Under the 1997 Constitution, the President was appointed by the Great Council of Chiefs to serve a term of 5 years and a maximum 2 terms totaling 10 years.
Iloilo was re-appointed towards the end of 2005 by the GCC together with Roko Tui Bau Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi as Vice President. He had initially publicly announced that he would not accept re-appointment but changed his mind a few weeks later, apparently on Bainimarama’s advice.
Following the abrogation of the Constitution, Iloilo re-appointed himself as President under the Executive Authority of Fiji Decree of 10th April.