12 Jan 2006

Fiji president's powers transferred to deputy ahead of formal retirement

8:22 am on 12 January 2006

It's been confirmed that Fiji's president, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, will retire at the end of March.

Fiji TV reports that Ratu Josefa has been on leave since late last year and all presidential powers have been transferred to the vice president, Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi.

Ratu Josefa, who turned 85 last month, will tour Fiji troops serving in the Middle East before stepping down.

He took up the presidency soon after the coup when the then president, the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, was forced to vacate office when his life was threatened by George Speight's rebels.

The announcement of all presidential powers being transferred to Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi comes just ahead of a meeting between him and Commodore Bainimarama on the military's standoff with the government.

The home affairs minister, Josefa Vosanibola, says any further comment on the standoff will have to await the outcome of that meeting.

As acting president, Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi is the commander-in-chief of the military.