21 Aug 2009

Fiji regime silence aids speculation about fresh Bainimarama presidency

12:56 pm on 21 August 2009

A Fiji academic says there's speculation about whether the interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama will soon become President.

An announcement on the presidency is expected after the next week's cabinet meeting, although no candidates have officially been named.

Dr Steven Ratuva says Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, who has been acting as president since Ratu Josefa Iloilo retired last month, is a leading contender for the presidency.

But the political sociologist from the University of Auckland's Centre for Pacific Studies says Commodore Bainimarama could seize the opportunity to consolidate power

"Frank Bainimarama himself might take over the position and reconfigure the whole power and institutional structures around him so that the president has more power, something like a US presidential system where he becomes the commander in chief of the army as well as the chief executive of the state and head of state as well."

Dr Ratuva says Ratu Epeli Nailatikau would be a popular choice for President under the circumstances.

Commodore Bainimarama claimed to be president for sev eral weeks after the 2006 coup.