Fiji's President Ratu Josefa Iloilo will retire on Thursday, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama announced on Tuesday.
Bainimarama made the announcement at a press conference after visiting Ratu Josefa at the Government House earlier Tuesday.
Bainimarama told the press conference that Iloilo would be replaced for the time being by Vice President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau after he tendered his resignation effective from July 30.
Bainimarama said Iloilo's decision to step down was a truly significant event, "the symbolic passing of the torch from a statesman who has made a tremendous contribution to the nation and to the lives of all Fijians."
His replacement would be decided by Fiji's Cabinet at a time suitable for the regime. He has been labeled one of the oldest reigning heads of state.
Iloilo was appointed in December 2000 by the Great Council of Chiefs and has served since then except for a brief period from Dec. 5, 2006 to Jan. 4, 2007 when Bainimara held presidential powers.
A teacher by profession, Ratu Josefa was a former vice president of the Methodist Church from 1997 to 1998. He was also a senator in the 1990s.