Fiji President Ratu Josefa Iloilo repealed the country’s constitution on Friday, appointed himself head of state and set a 2014 election deadline.
He said he had also sacked all the judges and established a “new legal order” following Thursday’s Court of Appeal ruling that the country’s military regime was illegally appointed following the 2006 coup.
“I will soon be inviting suitable individuals to join or rejoin the bench under the new order,” Iloilo said in an address to the nation.
The self-appointed head of state said a “soon-to-be-appointed interim government” would prepare the country for democratic elections in September 2014, at the latest.
“I urge you all to work together with the soon-to-be-appointed government for the smooth transition to a new order.”
Thursday’s court ruling, which declared the interim government of coup leader Voreqe Bainimarama to be invalid, ruled that Iloilo appoint a distinguished person to act as caretaker prime minister. That person should neither be Bainimarama nor the deposed prime minister Laisenia Qarase, the court said.
“There is no written provision in the constitution for appointment of such person and as a result Fiji does not have a government in place since 3:00pm yesterday (Thursday) afternoon,” Iloilo said. “You cannot have a country without a government. The machinery of government must continue”.
In a nationally televised address following the court ruling, military chief Bainimarama pledged the security forces would continue to maintain law and order.
Following Iloilo’s announcement, Fiji remained calm although police said they had stepped up their presence on the streets. Police director of operations Waisea Tabakau told the Fiji Village website that the safety and security of the people was their main priority. Military spokesman Major Neumi Leweni said the police would now be the only visible form of security, but the military would assist “when the need arises”.