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
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