Fiji strongman Bainimarama back in power (Lead)

April 11th, 2009 - 12:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Wellington, April 11 (DPA) Two days after Fiji military chief Voreqe Bainimarama’s government was declared illegal by the Court of Appeal, it was back in power Saturday, media reports said.
Bainimarama, who has governed the country since ousting the elected government in a bloodless military coup in December 2006, was sworn in by President Ratu Josefa Iloilo as caretaker prime minister for the next five years, according to reports from capital Suva.

The sick and ageing president sacked the judges and introduced emergency rule Friday.

All nine members of his cabinet, which the three judges of the Court of Appeal ruled Thursday had been unlawfully appointed, were then sworn in again.

Iloilo, who is reported to be 89, declared himself head of state, revoked the constitution and sacked the judges who had specifically directed him not to appoint Bainimarama, or Laisenia Qarase, the man he ousted, in the caretaker role pending new elections.

The president, told the nation in a televised address Friday that the new interim government would need five years to implement reforms before “true democratic and parliamentary elections” could be held by September 2014.

Local newspapers, radio and television stations, who were placed under state censorship following emergency regulations promulgated by Iloilo, were allowed to attend Bainimarama’s swearing-in at Government House, but international reporters were barred, Radio New Zealand reported.

The Fijivillage website said that Bainimarama was planning to make a televised address to the nation later Saturday.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that the decision to revoke the 1997 constitution and declare a public emergency in Fiji was a “clear attempt to prolong rule by an unelected executive”, and “a clear rejection of the legal process”.

The developments were also condemned by the Commonwealth, the US, Australia and New Zealand, who have all suspended aid to the Pacific island nation of about 837,000 people pending a return to democracy.

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