21 Aug 2009

Nailatikau tipped as popular choice for Fiji presidency

2:53 pm on 21 August 2009

There's speculation that Fiji's interim Prime Minister may soon take over the presidency, but an academic says the acting president Ratu Epeli Nailatikau would be a popular choice.

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

Dr Steven Ratuva says Commodore Frank Bainimarama may take over the position, and reconfigure the political system so that the Fiji presidency has the power of a US president.

But the political sociologist from the University of Auckland's Centre for Pacific Studies says the acting president, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, is also a leading contender.

"He was an ambassador to London, he was a Minister of Foreign Affairs and he was also commander of the military forces, and he's also High Chief, he is actually the uncle of the King of Tonga. So he's got everything in terms of traditional status, as well as professional qualifications."

Dr Ratuva says the appointment of the president by the cabinet, shows how the influence of the chiefs has been limited to the villages and provinces.