30 Oct 2009

Delay in choosing Fiji President hints at dissent within regime

8:05 am on 30 October 2009

A leading academic on Fiji says a three-month delay in appointing the country's president could suggest a split within the interim regime.

Fiji's former military commander and parliamentary speaker, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, has been confirmed as the country's new president, three months after the retirement of Ratu Josefa Iloilo.

A spokesman for the interim regime has confirmed that Ratu Epeli was appointed earlier this week, but is yet to be sworn in.

Dr Jonathan Fraenkel, an academic based at the Australian National University, says he questions why there's been such a long delay in making the appointment.

"Quite a few people have suggested that there's some nervousness on Bainimarama's point of giving executive power to Ratu Epeli Nailatikau. After all Bainimarama's speech at the United Nations General Assembly last month was very critical of the old guard and Ratu Epeli Nailatikau is certainly part of that old elite, being the son in law of the former President, Ratu Mara. So there's obviously some fissions going on within the cabinet."

Dr Jonathan Fraenkel