11 Apr 2007

Fiji awaits announcement of new Vice-President

10:03 am on 11 April 2007

Interest is growing in Fiji in who the president, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, has chosen as his new vice president.

President Iloilo is due to announce his choice at a meeting of the 55-member Great Council of Chiefs in Suva this morning.

The former vice president, Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, resigned after the military replaced the Qarase government in December to begin its clean-up campaign.

For several weeks there has been speculation that a son of the former president, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, and a Lt Col in the army, Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara, may be named the vice president.

But in the last few days suggestions have been increasing that the interim foreign affairs minister and son-in law of Ratu Mara, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, may be named the vice president.

Ratu Epeli is the former speaker of Fiji's parliament and was military commander when he was deposed by Sitiveni Rabuka in the May 1987 coup.

A senior sociology lecturer at the USP, Dr Steven Ratuva, has told Fiji TV that whoever is named vice president will have to be recognized as someone who can help move Fiji forward.

Dr Ratuva says the person would have to be someone who has not been too politically aligned and who would work closely with the current interim administration.

The interim prime minister, Commodore Bainimarama, will be present at the Great Council of Chiefs meeting when President Iloilo makes his announcement.