22 Jul 2008

Bainimarama eyeing Fiji presidency - NZ PM

1:01 pm on 22 July 2008

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark says Fiji's self-appointed interim prime minister Frank Bainimarama may seek to take over the presidency.

Miss Clark told The Press newspaper she believed Commodore Bainimarama never intended to keep a promise to return democracy to his nation by March next year.

The promise was made to Pacific leaders in Tonga last year.

Miss Clark said Commodore Bainimarama was guilty of serious crimes such as treason and may seek to seize the presidency from incumbent Ratu Josefa Iloilo, 87.

According to rumours circulating in recent months, former PM Mahendra Chaudhry, a minister in the military cabinet, would return to become prime minister.

Commodore Bainimarama overthrew the elected government in December 2006. It was the fourth coup in Fiji since 1987.