3 Nov 2006

Fiji President admitted to Suva hospital

8:47 am on 3 November 2006

Fiji's president and commander in chief, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, is reported to have been hospitalized amid the escalating crisis between the military and the government.

The Fijilive news website says authorities at the Suva Private Hospital have refused to confirm or deny the report, but it has been reliably told that the 85-year old president is indeed a patient.

The hospitalization came less than 48 hours after President Iloilo replaced the military commander on the advice of the prime minister, but had to backtrack when senior army and navy officers pledged their loyalty and support for Commodore Bainimarama.

The president has a history of ailing health but was reappointed by the Great Council of Chiefs for a new five-year term early this year at the insistence of the military.

Meanwhile, a USP academic says the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, could move a motion of no confidence in the president when the Great Council of Chiefs meets next week.

Dr Steven Ratuva has told Fiji TV that if Mr Qarase feels that the president has failed to act on his advice, he would have this option, but he could also sort out the stand off traditionally.