Former president who aided Fiji coup dies at 91
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Last Updated: Wednesday, February 16, 2011, 12:34
Suva: Ratu Josefa Iloilo, a Fijian tribal chief who as president made crucial decisions backing the military takeover of the South Pacific country, has died at age 91.

The government is honouring Iloilo with a full state funeral tomorrow, and national flags on all government buildings will stay at half staff until the funeral ends. He had a longtime heart condition, and the government said he died Feb 7 at Suva Private Hospital.

A traditional high chief and former teacher, Iloilo became a key ally of armed forces chief Commodore Frank Bainimarama who overthrew the elected government in a December 2006 coup amid rising tensions between indigenous Fijians and the country's large ethnic Indian minority.

Bainimarama seized the president's powers in the coup, but returned them within days to Iloilo, who then swore in the armed forces chief as prime minister and his appointees as the Cabinet, giving the regime a veneer of legitimacy.

Iloilo stepped in again on Bainimarama's behalf in April 2009, when Fiji's Court of Appeal ruled that Bainimarama's government was illegal and all decisions that it had made were invalid.

Iloilo responded by abolishing the constitution, firing the nation's judges and imposing emergency rule that continues to this day, with the nation ruled by decrees issued by the office of president on the advice of Bainimarama and his Cabinet.


First Published: Wednesday, February 16, 2011, 12:34

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