Bainimarama may be President, again
26 MAY 2008
Fiji’s interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama may assume the presidency if the Great Council of Chiefs fails to appoint a Vice President.
This is a likely scenario if the aging President Ratu Josefa Iloilo no longer remains in office either through resignation, illness or death, say experts on Fiji’s Constitution.
Under Fiji’s Constitution, the Vice President acts as President until the GCC meets again to appoint a President.
However, lack of support from Fiji’s 14 provinces for the new-look GCC proposed by the interim Government has put the much-anticipated meeting of chiefs in limbo.
Last week, Bainimarama said the GCC will not meet if there is no quorum.
Constitutional lawyer Jon Apted said given the current situation if something happens to Iloilo “than nobody can be President”.
“There is a vacuum in the presidential office. That is why he can’t go overseas,” he said.
“In a normal situation, the GCC could meet tomorrow to appoint a President.
“So this current state of affairs is not supposed to be happening.”
Professor Brij Lal, one of the architects of the 1997 Constitution, believes that Bainimarama “could simply declare a state of emergency, assume the President’s powers and carry on”.
“Bainimarama is intent on having his way,” he said.
“He has done it before. Soon after the December 2006 coup, he simply asked the President aside and he assumed his powers.
“Given the power he has –he is the most powerful man in modern Fijian history: commander of the military forces, head of government, minister for Fijian Affairs and a host of other ministries including the Public Service—he can do anything he wants.”
Tears for Fiji says, we wonder if Mr. Bainimarama will even consider the option stated by Jon Apted.
But in usual flip-flop Voreqe Bainimarama fashion, we think we are safe in saying that he would say that what Mr. Apted believes to be a solution to this problem is not his prerogative as it is only him and him alone who has all the "real concerns" and "best ideas" that will solve all our country's problems.
It's not good enough to say "forget about what had happened and move on" because really, we are in this mess because of one man and his fellow merry-men's audacity to take-over a democratically elected government.