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SUVA, Fiji Islands (January 5, 2001 – Radio Australia)---Fiji's former president, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, has not formally resigned his position.

The interim Fiji government claimed last week that Ratu Mara had officially relinquished his post, and would retire, but Radio Australia correspondent Ofa Kaukimoce reports from Suva that the claim was improperly based on a communication between Ratu Mara and the prime minister's office.

"The communication reportedly signaling Ratu Mara’s retirement was actually a form provided by the PM's office to the former president to sign.

"The form enables the release of pension funds to which he's entitled as former president.

"Questions have been raised on why such a form had to be given to Ratu Sir Kamisese when he's already entitled to his pension as former prime minister and two terms as president.

"The action of the secretary to the PM's office, Joji Kotobalavu, for dealing directly with the former president has also been questioned.

"For Radio Australia News, I'm Ofa Kaukimoce."

(NOTE: Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara left the president’s position following the May 19, 2000 coup and the military takeover of the government, but he did not resign at that time. The deposed People’s Coalition Government maintains that it is still the only legal Fiji government, with Ratu Mara still its president and Mahendra Chaudhry its prime minister.)

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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