Thursday, November 18, 2010

More cracks emerge in Fijian leadership as defence minister resigns

by HAMISH MCDONALD - ASIA PACIFIC EDITOR

18 November 2010



FIJI'S military government has been shaken by the sudden resignation of a key ally of the Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama.



Ratu Epeli Ganilau resigned on Tuesday night as minister for defence, national security and immigration, without any public explanation.



Commodore Bainimarama is in China seeking trade, investment and aid for an economy lurching towards a severe crisis next year, with massive foreign debt repayments due and the mainstay sugar industry near collapse.



Ratu Ganilau has been an important link for the regime to respected Fijian traditions, as a former defence force commander, a former chairman of the council of traditional Fijian chiefs, and a son-in-law of the late prime minister and high chief Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, who led Fiji to independence from Britain in 1970.



The government's Permanent Secretary for Information, Sharon Smith-Johns, said further clarification would have to wait Commodore Bainimarama's return next week. She understood Ratu Ganilau had issued a statement giving ''personal reasons'' were behind his decision.



From a senior chiefly family, Ratu Ganilau had been military commander for eight years before Commodore Bainimarama and had tried unsuccessfully for election to parliament. He joined the current regime after the December 2006 military coup.



Unless another plausible reason emerges, the resignation will fuel rumours of a gulf emerging between Commodore Bainimarama and the chiefly Mara and Ganilau camp.
http://www.bluemountainsgazette.com.au/news/world/world/general/mor...

..economy lurching towards a severe crisis next year, with massive foreign debt repayments due and the mainstay sugar industry near collapse.



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