7 Feb 2011

Long-serving Fiji president dies

11:07 am on 7 February 2011

A critic of the military government in Fiji says the former president, Ratu Josefa Iloilo Uluivuda, was a decent man who became a puppet head of state.

Ratu Josefa, who was president for nine years until his retirement in 2009, died yesterday at the age of 91.

The Fiji-born Australian academic, Professor Brij Lal, who was forced to leave Fiji in 2009, says Ratu Josefa Iloilo never sought to be president.

He says he became caught up in difficult circumstances beyond his control and was manipulated by military leaders for their own ends.

Ratu Josefa became president in 2000, and was deposed in the 2006 coup led by Commodore Frank Bainimarama but restored the following year.