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So in episode 642 there is a call between navy HQ and the new guy (sorry forgot his rank/name) and Saka says the followingenter image description here

Who exactly are the five elders, and how much power do they hold? As they managed to fool navy HQ.

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The five elders are the Gorosei, Japanese for "five elder stars" (go means five) who form the council that run the world government. Below them is the commander-in-chief of the world government, and below him is the fleet admiral of the marines. They have pretty much unlimited power over the world government.

Very little information has been given, but many speculate (based on nothing) that they are five of the direct descendants of the 20 kings who formed the world government (making them celestial dragons). If they are just normal citizens, they may in theory have to answer to the celestial dragons, if they are celestial dragons themselves then they answer to no-one.

It isn't really that they fooled Marine HQ, it's more that they withheld information, as Marine HQ follows their orders anyway. If Sakazuki had found out, he probably wouldn't have had a choice but to go along with them anyway, as when Sengoku wanted to get the wanted posters out for the escaped Impel Down prisoners as soon as possible, but was overruled and told that it was being kept secret. All he could do was resign, they can overrule literally anyone in the world government whenever they want.

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The new guy is Fujitora or Issho and is an admiral.

The 5 elders appear to be the gorosei who are the heads of the world government. They pretty much are the world government and pick the admirals, warlords, and everyone at navy HQ. That is why they could deceive them as needed. They probably only did that, however, by orders of the celestial dragons who are (essentially) the royal/noble class of the world government.

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