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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 January 2007, 23:59 GMT
Fiji coup leader sworn in as PM
Cmdr Bainimarama
Cmdr Bainimarama seized power in December
The leader of a coup in Fiji, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, has been sworn in as interim prime minister, one month after overthrowing the government.

Cmdr Bainimarama deposed prime minister Laisenia Qarase and named himself the country's president.

However, Cmdr Bainimarama on Thursday returned executive authority to President Ratu Josefa Iloilo.

An interim government is to be appointed and is expected to be dominated by the military.

It will remain in power until elections.

Mr Bainimarama said at a short swearing-in ceremony on Friday: "In all things, I will be a true and faithful prime minister."

Mr Qarase remains banished on an outlying island.

Council of Chiefs

In a national address on Thursday, Cmdr Bainimarama said he had returned "all executive authority" to Mr Iloilo.

FIJI TENSIONS TIMELINE
map
2000: Brief coup put down by army chief Bainimarama
July 2005: Bainimarama warns he will topple government if it pardons jailed coup plotters
May 2006: PM Laisenia Qarase wins re-election
31 Oct: Qarase tries - and fails - to replace Bainimarama
November: Qarase says he will change law offering clemency to coup plotters - Bainimarama warns of coup
5 Dec: Military declares coup

The move did not affect his control over the government, but still had important significance, correspondents say.

Cmdr Bainimarama did not explain why he made the decision but reports suggest he was trying to appease Fiji's powerful Council of Chiefs, which represent the country's indigenous majority.

The council has been critical of the army's actions, and had objected to the treatment of Mr Iloilo, whom Council members first appointed seven years ago.

Soon after he was reinstated, President Iloili made a nationwide address publicly supporting the coup, and saying that, given the circumstances, he would have taken the same actions as Cmdr Bainimarama.

"I fully endorse the actions of the commander and the Republic of Fiji Military Forces in acting in the interest of the nation and in upholding the constitution," he said.

The military had long accused Mr Qarase's administration of being corrupt, and adopting racist policies against the ethnic Indian minority.

Caretaker Prime Minister Jona Senilagakali, who was chosen by the army in the days after the coup, has resigned.


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Commodore Bainimarama is sworn in



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