10 Apr 2009

Fiji's President abrogates Constitution and revokes judicial appointments

1:36 pm on 10 April 2009

Fiji's President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, says he has abrogated the 1997 Constitution and appointed himself the Head of State.

Ratu Josefa has also fired all judges but says existing laws remain.

He announced his move this morning.

"To facilitate the holding of true democratic and parliamentary elections I hereby abrogate the 1997 constitution. With this abrogation I appoint myself as the head of state of Fiji under a new legal order."

He says he will appoint an interim government to rule for the next five years to implement what he says are the necessary reforms required for true democratic and parliamentary elections.

Ratu Josefa says he has the backing of the security forces and he has directed military commander Commodore Frank Bainimarama to to take all reasonable steps to ensure the maintenance of peace.

The President further explained that the five years was necessary in order for the interim government, which he would appoint over the next few days, to implement the reforms he had endorsed in the People's Charter for Peace, Change and Progress.

The President's move comes less than 24 hours after the appeal court invalidated his last attempt to install an interim government, saying the constitution gave him no such powers.