18 Nov 2010

Fiji Water row behind Ganilau's sudden resignation

1:01 pm on 18 November 2010

Fiji's former interim defence and immigration minister, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, says he resigned on Tuesday because of disagreement over how to deal with an employee of a US company, Fiji Water.

Ratu Epeli has told the Fijilive website the reason for him to quit relates to the Fiji Water director of external affairs, David Roth, but he declined to elaborate.

Reports say he objected to support plans to have him deported.

Fiji Water is a key export business in Fiji but it has been in dispute with the interim regime over tax and royalty issues.

A spokesperson for Fiji Water at its California headquarters says a statement on the affair will be issued tomorrow.

FBC News reports that the interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, who is in China, has accepted Ratu Epeli's resignation which came three days after he had become the acting interim prime minister.

The information ministry has declined to detail Commodore Bainimarama's agenda or itinerary in China but says he has been in meetings.

The ministry says he is in Zhejiang province to explore trade opportunities.

The acting interim prime minister is now the interim minister for primary industries, Joketani Cokanasiga, who in 2004 was the internal affairs minister successfully lobbying for the re-appointment of Commodore Bainimarama as the military commander.