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Fiji's President to Step Down


Fiji's military leader Frank Bainimarama has announced that the country's president, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, is retiring.

Commodore Bainimarama said Vice President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau will replace him until the Cabinet chooses a new president. He said Mr. Iloilo's resignation is effective Thursday.

The 88-year-old Mr. Iloilo has been ailing for some time. He has been president since 2000.

Critics have accused him of being influenced by Commodore Bainimarama, who took power in the 2006 coup.

Earlier this year, a court in Fiji ruled that Commodore Bainimarama's military government was illegal. In response, President Iloilo declared a state of emergency in April, revoking the constitution and firing the judiciary. He reinstated the military administration with Commodore Bainimarama as interim prime minister. He also declared a state of emergency that allows the government to monitor and censor media reports and broaden the powers of police.

Mr. Nailatikau, once also a military officer, was appointed vice president under Fiji's new system.

In May, the government said Fiji's return to democracy would be postponed until 2014, five years later than promised.

The regional Pacific Islands Forum later suspended Fiji from the 16-nation bloc, denouncing what it said is the government's total disregard for basic human rights, democracy and freedom.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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