SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Jan. 4) – Fiji's military commande, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, has announced that he is handing back executive authority of the country to President Ratu Josefa Iloilo.

Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama made the announcement today at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks in an address to the nation at 2:30 p.m. (FT).

Commodore Bainimarama appointed himself acting President on December 5 last year after removing Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua Government in a bloodless coup.

Ratu Iloilo is to make a national address at 4 p.m. at Government House following the army commander's announcement.

Meanwhile, President Ratu Josefa Iloilo today said he backs the military's takeover of the Qarase government, saying it was necessary.

"I would have done exactly what the commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama did since it was necessary to do so at that time," said Ratu Iloilo in a national address at 4pm (FT). "These actions were also valid in law. Therefore I fully endorse the actions of the commander and the RFMF in acting in the interest of the nation and in upholding the Constitution. I thank him and his men and women for having the courage to step in. And for handing back all my executive powers. I thank the civil service, judiciary, the Police, the Judiciary and other governmental institution institutions in remaining faithfully at their posts".

Ratu Iloilo said that the events since the [overthrow] of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and his Government on December 5, 2006 have been trying.

"In particular in early December we were at cross roads at which hard and decisive decisions needed to be made. I was unable to fully perform my duties as I was prevented from doing so. I do not wish to elaborate further on this point but I can state that they were predominantly cultural."

Ratu Iloilo called on all citizens to go about their normal business. He said it was necessary to move on to a genuine democracy.

Ratu Iloilo also appealed to overseas governments and international organisations to recognise Fiji's needs and find a Fiji-based solution whilst upholding the Constitution.

He said that he would first consult with some "capable people" before announcing an interim government to take Fiji to the next election.

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