Laisenia Qarase

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Laisenia Qarase
Prime Minister of Fiji
In office
16 March 2001 – 5 December 2006
President Josefa Iloilo
Preceded by Tevita Momoedonu
Succeeded by Jona Senilagakali
In office
4 July 2000 – 14 March 2001
President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara
Josefa Iloilo
Preceded by Vacant
Succeeded by Ratu Epeli Nailatikau
Personal details
Born 4 February 1941
Vanua Balavu, Fiji
Political party United Fiji Party (Social Democratic Liberal Party)

Laisenia Qarase (pronounced [ŋɡaˈrase]; born 4 February 1941) is a Fijian political figure. He served as the sixth Prime Minister of Fiji from 2000 to 2006. After the military quashed the coup that led to the removal of Mahendra Chaudhry, Qarase joined the Interim Military Government as a financial adviser on 9 June 2000, until his appointment as Prime Minister on 4 July. He won two parliamentary elections, but the 2006 Fijian coup d'état removed him from power on 5 December 2006. The 2006 coup d'état received popular support amongst the ordinary citizenry due to the promotion of racially discriminatory policies by the Qarase government which was also seen as advancing the interests of the I'Taukei (indigenous) political elite as well as I'Taukei Chiefs. Qarase is a polarising figure in Fijian politics and was recently jailed on corruption charges and served a 9 month sentence. He is controversial because his policies promote indigenous Fijians over those of other racial heritages in Fiji].[3]

A native of Vanuabalavu Island in the Lau archipelago, he is one of many Lauans to have held top leadership positions in Fiji. He is the son of Josateki Mate of Mavana village.

Early career[edit]

Following his education at Suva Boys Grammar School, Qarase went on to graduate from New Zealand's University of Auckland with a degree in Commerce. He entered the banking profession and became managing director of the publicly owned Fiji Development Bank in 1983, a position he held for fifteen years. In 1998, he moved to the private sector and became head of the Fiji Merchant Bank. In 1999, Qarase received his first political office, when the Great Council of Chiefs nominated him to fill one of the 14 seats allocated to them in the 32-member Senate, where he soon gained a reputation as a vociferous opponent of Mahendra Chaudhry's government.

As Prime Minister of Fiji[edit]

Qarase was removed from power in a military coup on 4 December 2006, after many months of tensions between his government and the Military came to a head in late November. He had been Prime Minister since 2001, except for a period of two days (14–16 March 2001), when he temporarily vacated the office to meet a constitutional technicality; the Supreme Court of Fiji had ruled that his government was unconstitutional and that Mahendra Chaudhry remained the rightful Prime Minister. In a series of moves that legal experts have considered to be of doubtful constitutionality, Qarase resigned on 14 March, in favour of Ratu Tevita Momoedonu (who had been a Minister in the Chaudhry Cabinet) so that Momoedonu could advise President Ratu Josefa Iloilo to dissolve the Parliament and call an early general election. As soon as this technicality had been attended to, Qarase resumed the Prime Ministership. He was subsequently confirmed in office when he led his newly formed Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL) to victory in the election held to restore democracy in 2001. As Prime Minister, Qarase proved popular with business leaders, who appreciated his steps to liberalise the economy and boost tourism, the main source of foreign exchange.

Qarase narrowly won the parliamentary election held on 6–13 May 2006, with his party taking 36 of the 71 seats in the House of Representatives. Qarase retained his own constituency with some 93 percent of the vote, after an expected challenge from Adi Koila Nailatikau, his predecessor as Lau M.P. and daughter of former Prime Minister and President, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, did not eventuate.

Domestic policy[edit]

Qarase was known as a champion of the interests of indigenous Fijians. He, however, rejected suggestions that he was a racist. Addressing Muslims celebrating Muhammad's birthday on 25 April 2005, he said that the concept of racism was "alien and abhorrent" to him. He argued, even so, that to ignore racial issues would be "irresponsible and dangerous," because race was "a fact of life." He said that his government was working to build "an inclusive society, where the views of every community and group are taken into account." He summed up his vision for Fiji by saying, "My government's aim for Fiji is not to return to where we once were but to journey forward together to a place we have not yet been, a Fiji of lasting peace and harmony, where nobody is left behind or goes without."

On 22 May 2005, he blamed lack of genuine mutual respect and appreciation among Fiji's diverse religions and cultures for many of the divisions the country currently faces.

In a speech on 25 May, Qarase affirmed his strong support for the chiefly system, saying that to weaken the chiefs would be to weaken the nation. "I believe that the chiefs of Fiji have relevance for all our citizens not just the Fijians, they still represent stability, order and continuity. ... If the chiefs were diminished, the entire nation would be weakened and be vulnerable," he said.

In a parliamentary debate on 3 June, Qarase set out his own interpretation of why indigenous Fijians wanted to keep the leadership of the country in their own hands. This attitude sprang from insecurity, which he considered understandable in view of what has happened to indigenous peoples elsewhere. He said that Indo-Fijians had not responded to indigenous initiatives to extend the hand of friendship of cooperation, and that until a higher level of interracial trust could be achieved, the insecurity felt by many ethnic Fijians would remain. Rightly or wrongly, Qarase said, those responsible for the overthrow of the Into-Fijian-led government in 2000 were responding to the Tagi in Taukei, or cry of the Fijian people. The government's controversial proposal to establish a Reconciliation and Unity Commission would give such people a chance to clear their consciences.

On 7 July, Qarase told the people of Bua Province that he intended to prioritize legislation to codify and protect indigenous Fijian rights. He indicated that he would seek the support of other communities, too. He blamed the lack of legislation safeguarding their rights for the "dissatisfaction" which contributed, he said, to the military coup of 1987 and the civilian coup of 2000.

He denied being a racial chauvinist, however, insisting in an address to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in Nadi on 29 August 2005 that while ethnic Fijians were unwilling to relinquish power, they were willing to share it. He considered that the practical reality of communal politics, however, would take many years to overcome. A greater degree of interracial trust, confidence, and assimilation was required to get away from the situation where democracy was merely a façade for ethnic politics. "It requires commitment, vision and will. Differences of ethnicity and multi-culturalism have to be managed and accommodated," Qarase said. "It is a difficult balancing act, which must take account of the interests of all communities." He added that there were about a dozen minority groups, in addition to the two principal races; they, too, must be assured of their rights. He defended his affirmative action policies, saying they were not discriminatory but "a temporary measure to correct ... imbalances" and close the economic gap between indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians.

Qarase told the Fiji Village news service on 31 August that he did not believe racism was a major problem in Fiji. There had been racial issues dividing the country in the past, he said, but they had been resolved.

On 4 September, Qarase reacted angrily to allegations made by Opposition Leader Mahendra Chaudhry that he and his party used hate speech to gain the support of the indigenous community. Qarase said that he did not condone hate speech, and claimed that Chaudhry himself was often guilty of using hate speech in his political campaigns.

Foreign policy[edit]

Qarase also took a strong stand against what he saw as foreign interference in Fiji's "domestic affairs." On 2 March 2005, he strongly reacted to a U.S. State Department report critical of racial discrimination in Fiji, and of the racial divide between Fiji's two main political parties. He rebuked the United States for interfering in Fiji's internal affairs. "Fiji can make a similar report on the US on all those issues. Our report would be far worse than the US state department's report on Fiji," he said. Then, on 13 April 2005, he rejected criticism from Australia and some other countries over the prosecution and imprisonment of two foreigners charged with committing homosexual acts, and said that other countries needed to respect Fiji's independence.

He also spoke out on issues relating to poverty and economic development in third world nations, including Pacific Islands states. Addressing the 28th annual meeting of the Association of Development Financing Institution in Asia and the Pacific (ADFIAP) at the Sheraton Resort in Nadi on 13 May 2005, Qarase said that poverty was the "greatest challenge" for development banks. He lamented what he called the greed and consumerism of rich countries which, he said, had the greatest concentrations of wealth in history while nearly half of the world's population is classified as poor, with more than a billion people living on less than one dollar a day. He called this disparity "an insult to the very concept of social justice" and "a shameful mark on the civilization of the 21st century." He went on to say that "The shame is compounded by the failure of developed countries to commit enough of their wealth and resources to helping poor populations from developing countries."

Qarase called for an international system to provide market access to exports from poor countries, to enable them to earn their own way in the world. He also condemned corruption, saying that it hindered investment, stunted economic growth, and led to reduced standards of living and to a fall in government revenues, and called it "a stain on the integrity of any nation."

Qarase was known as a staunch friend of Israel, a position he attributed to his strong Christian faith. On his orders, all United Nations votes involving Israel must be referred to him personally for approval. His support for Israeli interests was not unconditional, however, and Senator James Ah Koy (a fundamentalist Christian) strongly rebuked him in Parliament for not standing for Israel strongly enough.

Qarase was critical of the World Trade Organization, saying that its policies were unfair to small countries like Fiji. "WTO is trying to impose equality of trade in an unequal world," he said at the 18th Fiji-Australia Business Forum in Sydney on 17 October 2005, "but for developing countries like Fiji there is no level playing field, just a slippery slope." He believed that it would be a long time before Fiji's economy could compete on equal terms with that of more developed nations.

Political controversies[edit]

Qarase faced challenges on numerous fronts. Some of these challenges relate to his handling of the 2000 coup aftermath, others to the implementation of policy by his government.

Constitutional controversies[edit]

Less than one percent of the Indo-Fijian population voted for his party in 2001, with a further 22 percent voting for the National Federation Party, which was loosely allied to his party. Subsequent byelections and local government elections showed that his support in the Indo-Fijian community increased, but only marginally. Almost 75 percent of Indo-Fijian voters supported Chaudhry's Fiji Labour Party, which Qarase refused to include in his Cabinet, despite its winning of 28 seats, more than three times the number stipulated by the Constitution for representation in a multi-party cabinet. On 18 July 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that the exclusion of the Labour Party was in breach of the Constitution, and demanded that the situation be rectified. Subsequent appeals, counter-appeals, and negotiations stalled the appointment of Labour Party ministers, however. In June 2004, the Supreme Court ruled that the Labour Party was entitled to 14 out of 30 cabinet posts. Qarase announced that he would respect the ruling and implement it. His refusal to include Chaudhry himself in any cabinet, however, continued to stall the ensuing negotiations about the composition of the cabinet, until the Labour Party announce late in 2004 that it was no longer interested in joining the cabinet.

Several times throughout 2005, Qarase called for amendments to change the constitutional requirement for a multi-party Cabinet to a multi-ethnic one. This, he told the Fiji Village news service on 23 December, would guarantee equitable representation to all ethnic communities without requiring the government to compromise with ideologically opposite parties.

Qarase also faced criticism for comments made at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in Nadi on 29 August. He said that while Fiji "accepted" western-style democracy, it was an alien concept and certain aspects of it clashed with Fijian traditions. "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, vesting every individual with equal rights, was directly opposed to the hierarchical social structure of indigenous Fijian society. Chiefs were at the apex by virtue of their birth and rank. The rest of the people had a communal functional role in this hierarchy," Qarase told the workshop. National Alliance Party leader Ratu Epeli Ganilau, the son of Fiji's first President and the scion of a high-ranked chiefly family, ridiculed Qarase's speech, saying that Fiji's political and judicial institutions were firmly rooted in western democracy. He said that the Fijian people should not be "misled" by the Prime Minister's claims that democracy was alien to Fiji. "Mr Qarase should answer whether he wants the western system of governance which allows him to be Prime Minister, or the Fijian tradition which requires the chiefs to rule by virtue of their birthright and rank. Otherwise, he is just being hypocritical to save face," Ganilau said on 4 September.

Coup-related controversies[edit]

Another challenge for Qarase was the conviction of persons responsible for their part in the 2000 coup. On 6 August 2004, Vice-President Ratu Jope Seniloli, and the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ratu Rakuita Vakalalabure, were found guilty of treason and were given prison sentences of four and six years, respectively. Both are stalwarts of the Conservative Alliance, a coalition partner in Qarase's government. Anxious not to lose the six votes of that party, on which he relied for his parliamentary majority, Qarase declared that he was "dismayed by the severity of the sentences" that had been handed down. His government indicated, however, that it would not interfere with the process of law. On 29 November 2004, however, Attorney General Qoriniasi Bale announced that the government had decided to parole Seniloli on health grounds, in return for his resignation.

A similar scenario unfolded in the trial of Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, and Senator Ratu Josefa Dimuri. On 3 April 2005, Lalabalavu and Dimuri were convicted of unlawful assembly for their role aiding and abetting the 2000 coup by visiting rebels at the Sukanaivalu Barracks on 4 July that year, and were sentenced to eight months' imprisonment. Lalabalavu subsequently resigned his ministerial portfolio. Both were released on parole after serving just eleven days of their sentences.

Opposition politicians charged that the release of Seniloli, Lalabalavu, and Dimuri was for political reasons, as the six votes of the Conservative Alliance are needed to maintain the government's parliamentary majority.

Also in May 2005, the Qarase government introduced controversial parliamentary legislation to establish a Reconciliation and Unity Commission with powers, subject to presidential approval, to compensate victims and pardon perpetrators of the 2000 coup. The proposal has generated a storm of protests from opposition politicians, many of whom were victims of the coup, as well as from the military. Even Ratu Ovini Bokini, Chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs, expressed concern on 18 May that the Great Council had not been consulted and was "in the dark" about the bill. Ratu Bokini's comments drew an immediate response from Qarase, who said that he saw no need for prior consultation with anybody. "Any Bill is drafted without consulting any party or stakeholders is because it contains what the Government wants to be included in the Bill," he said. At the annual conference of his Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua on 27 May, Qarase strongly defended the proposal, saying he believed it was essential for Fiji to bring closure to the agony of the past in order to move on. "We cannot bring the people together and concentrate all our energies on developing the country when the agony of 2000 is continuously haunting us," he said.

On 24 June 2005, former Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry called on Qarase to resign in the wake of what Chaudhry called "very serious allegations" made against him by Roman Catholic Archbishop Petero Mataca, who had publicly accused the Prime Minister of misleading a delegation of church leaders on 2 May about what the Reconciliation and Unity legislation contained. According to the Archbishop, the leaders, who represented a variety of denominations, had given their support to the bill after the Prime Minister had told them about its reconciliation and compensation provisions. Only later had they heard, through the media, that it provided for amnesty to be granted to persons convicted of crimes related to the 2000 coup, which Mataca said was unacceptable.

On 29 May 2005, former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka accused Qarase of hypocrisy. Rabuka said that a number of groups had split from the Fijian Political Party, which Rabuka had led in the 1990s and which was then the only mainstream Fijian party, and it was this that had given rise to the current political disunity among indigenous Fijians. Qarase's calls for unity now were hypocritical, Rabuka said, as the Prime Minister's own Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua was one of the factions responsible for the fragmentation of the indigenous vote.

On 28 August 2005, Qarase said he was shocked by allegations that he had been a party to a plot to depose President Ratu Josefa Iloilo from office in 2000, barely a week after his inauguration. He said he had indeed attended a meeting at the Fijian Holdings boardroom, where Military Commander Commodore Frank Bainimarama said a group of six politicians, including nationalist Senator Apisai Tora, had asked him to remove the President, but denied that the topic had ever been raised. "I have never been part of any discussions to oust the president, I am a very peaceful person and to suggest that I was part of any discussions is unbelievable," Qarase said. Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes said on 2 September that they were hoping to interview Qarase.

On 6 September 2007, Commodore Frank Bainimarama said Fiji's military rulers declared again state of emergency since ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase was engaged in destabilization when he returned last week to Suva after 8 months of exile. Elections were tentatively set on March 2009.[1]

Financing allegations[edit]

In December 2005, Qarase and Opposition politicians traded mutual accusations of misuse of public funds and abuse of office, and on 8 December, Chaudhry announced his decision to sue the Prime Minister, and Fiji Television, for defamation.

On 5 December, lawyer Rajendra Chaudhry, acting for his father, Opposition Leader Mahendra Chaudhry, gave Qarase a three-day ultimatum to apologize for what he said were defamatory allegations, that Chaudhry had attempted to collect a commission on an F$86 million dollar loan from the Indian government for the reform of Fiji's sugar industry, or else face a lawsuit. Qarase refused to apologize, and when the three-day deadline set by Chaudhry expired, he announced on 8 December that he would be suing Qarase as an individual, not as Prime Minister, meaning that Qarase would be unable to use state funds to fight his case. The writ, which named Qarase the first defendant, also named Fiji Television as the second defendant. "Qarase has been reluctant to furnish evidence to substantiate his claims ... The imputations are very serious and a direct question on my integrity and leadership. As such I have had the resort to legal action," Chaudhry declared.

At a press conference on 9 December, the Prime Minister revealed a confidential letter from Mahendra Chaudhry, written on National Farmers Union (NFU) letterhead in his capacity as General Secretary of the Union, to Charles Walker, chairman of the Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC), in September 2003. The letter proposed that the NFU purchase shares in the FSC, and stated that he, FLP Senator Anand Singh, and United Consultancy of Auckland, New Zealand, were in talks with "an India-based milling company" to restructure the FSC. According to the Prime Minister, the deal would have transferred shares, that the government was considering selling, not to cane farmers but to their trade union representatives. "The benefit was only to the NFU," Qarase said. Qarase called for an audit of the office of the Leader of the Opposition, saying that it would prove his connections to the Indian company. Equipment in Chaudhry's office had been used to communicate with the company since 2002, he alleged.

Chaudhry derided the revelations as "laughable," and said that they showed no connection whatsoever between himself and India's Exim Bank, or with the Indian government loan. Nor did it substantiate, he said, Qarase's claims that he had sought a commission from the Indian companies. He filed an application in the High Court for a gag order to prevent the Prime Minister from making media statements until his lawsuit was heard, but Justice Anthony Gates dismissed the application on 14 December. Whether the Prime Minister's statements were defamatory was an issue that would have to be resolved in the trial itself, Gates ruled; in the meantime, the court would not interfere with constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech. Chaudhry was ordered to pay F$750 to Qarase and Fiji Television Limited to cover court costs. 9 January 2006 has been set for the hearing of the defamation case.

The same week, the Prime Minister found himself fending off allegations made by an Opposition parliamentarian, that he owned a property in Forster Street, funded by certain business leaders, and that he had received a double housing allowance while leading the Interim Government in 2000 and 2001. His private motor vehicle had also been purchased with the help of certain businessmen, the parliamentarian claimed. In reply, Qarase said that he did not know where Forster Street was. He owned only one property, in Mavana Village on the island of Vanuabalavu. He had never received the double housing allowance, he insisted, and could not afford to buy another property. He was still repaying a loan from the Merchants Bank for his private car, he said.

The Prime Minister also had to deny allegations made under parliamentary privilege by Senators Ponipate Lesavua and Ratu Dr. Epeli Nailatikau, and by prominent Opposition parliamentarian Poseci Bune, that two companies, one allegedly owned by his son Laisenia Qarase, Jr. and the other by Jale Baba, the General Secretary of Qarase's SDL Party, had benefited from government contracts. An angry Qarase challenged his opponents to repeat their allegations outside Parliament.

An audit report released in 2007 revealed that Qarase had incurred a total of $23,108.89 as precautionary measures for his safety between late November and early December 2006. the report also stated that the absence of invoices showed that payments were made prior to the purchases.

Fijilive.com reported that the Auditor General also highlighted the misuse of Taiwanese funds in his 2007 report, adding it did not follow financial regulations and overspending of funds over a period of seven months last year (2006) by the Prime Minister's Office.

In January 2010, it was reported that Qarase would stand trial on charges of abusing his office.[2][3]

Qarase was found guilty of abusing his office and failing to perform his duty, and sentenced on 3 August 2012 to one year in prison. His supporters say the charges were politically motivated.[4] He served eight months in prison before being released at the start of April 2013.[5]

Honours[edit]

On 30 October 2005, Qarase was awarded the Star of Melanesia by Papua New Guinea's Governor-General of Papua New Guinea, Sir Paulias Matane. The award was given in recognition of his contribution to business and commerce, as well as his efforts to bring political stability to Fiji and to promote the interests of Melanesian peoples throughout the Pacific region. Honoured with Qarase were his Solomon Islands and Vanuatu counterparts, Sir Allan Kemakeza and Ham Lini Vanuaroroa, respectively.

Personal views[edit]

Qarase is known as a devout and outspoken Christian. Addressing the Christian Youth Conference in Suva on 15 May 2005, he called on young Christians to put their faith into practice, and not to be intimidated by peers who might consider a strong religious commitment to be unfashionable. He also called on Christian young people to do what they could to stop the spread of AIDS, which he said "poses a terrible threat to the world."

The Prime Minister took a public stand on 24 January 2006 to support controversial American evangelist and faith healer Benny Hinn, who was conducting a crusade in Fiji. Despite reports of disillusionment by some people who were not healed, many thousands had been, Qarase told the Fiji Sun, and at any rate, the healings were "only a small part" of Hinn's message.

He also took a strong stand against the legalisation of homosexuality. Reacting on 29 August 2005 to a decision of High Court Justice Gerald Winter to free a Fijian citizen and an Australian who had been convicted of sodomy, on the grounds that it was illegal only if committed in a public place, Qarase said he was of the opinion that any law which conflicted with God's laws should be amended, and he would study ways to ensure that homosexual acts remained illegal. Qarase's statement brought a strong reaction from United Peoples Party leader Mick Beddoes, who said that homosexuals were human beings and entitled to the full protection of the law.

2006 coup[edit]

On the occasion of his 65th birthday on 4 February 2006, Qarase stated that if re-elected in the election that was duly held on 6–13 May, it would very likely be his last term in office. He won reelection, but continuing disagreements between his government and the powerful Republic of Fiji Military Forces culminated in a military coup on 5 December. Fiji Village reported the next day that he had been flown to his home island of Vanuabalavu by the Military, while Radio New Zealand claimed that he had fled there. He told Radio New Zealand that he was "down but not out"; he intended to fight on, and called for a peaceful popular uprising. On the same day it was reported that he had asked for military assistance from Australia. The BBC reported that after being warned by Commodore Bainimarama not to "incite violence", Prime Minister Qarase planned to return to Suva, from which he was banished, but was warned that he faced arrest if he returns.[6]

From Vanuabalavu, he remained outspoken in condemning the military takeover, comparing the new regime to those of Saddam Hussein, Adolf Hitler, and Idi Amin,[7][8] in an interview quoted in the Fiji Times and Fiji Village on 13 and 14 December 2006.

On 2 February, Fiji Village quoted Qarase as having told Radio Australia that he was considering contesting the election to restore democracy, expected to be held within the next five years. Qarase called for the date to be brought forward.[9]

On 6 September 2007, Bainimarama imposed a renewed state of emergency for one month, alleging that Qarase and his spokesman, Peceli Kinivuwai, were spreading lies and attempting to cause destabilization, following Qarase's return to Suva after having been confined to Vanuabalavu since his ouster. Bainimarama said that Qarase and his spokesman should return to Vanuabalavu and that they could "talk from there".[10]

Qarase initiated a court challenge to the coup on 4 October 2007.[11] Martial law was lifted on 6 October[12] on the grounds that there was no threat.[13]

Qarase's cabinets[edit]

As Prime Minister, Qarase led three cabinets. The first was the interim cabinet formed in the wake of the 2000 coup. The second followed the election of 2001, and the third was the multi-party cabinet formed in 2006.

Interim cabinet, 2000–2001[edit]

Portfolio Minister
Prime Minister,
Minister for National Reconciliation
Laisenia Qarase
Deputy Prime Minister,
Minister for Fijian Affairs
Ratu Epeli Nailatikau
Attorney-General,
Minister for Justice
Alipate Qetaki
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forests,
Minister for ALTA
Apisai Tora
Minister for Commerce, Business Development and Investment Tomasi Vuetilovoni
Minister for Education Nelson Delailomaloma
Minister for Finance and National Planning,
Minister for Communications
Ratu Jone Kubuabola
Minister for Foreign Affairs,
Minister for External Trade,
Minister for Sugar
Kaliopate Tavola
Minister for Health Pita Nacuva
Minister for Home Affairs,
Minister for Immigration
Ratu Talemo Ratakele
Minister for Information and Communications Ratu Inoke Kubuabola
Minister for Labour and Industrial Relations Ratu Tevita Momoedonu
Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources Mitieli Bulanauca
Minister for Local Government, Housing, and Environment Ratu Tu'uakitau Cokanauto
Minister for Multi-Ethnic Affairs,
Assistant Minister for Regional Development
George Shiu Raj
Minister for Public Enterprises,
Minister for Public Sector Reform
Hector Hatch
Minister for Regional Development Ilaitia Tuisese
Minister for Women,
Minister for Social Welfare,
Minister for Culture
Ro Teimumu Vuikaba Kepa
Minister for Tourism,
Minister for Transport
Konisi Yabaki
Minister for Works,
Minister for Public Works and Energy
Joketani Cokanasiga
Minister for Youth,
Minister for Employment Opportunities,
Minister for Sports
Keni Dakuidreketi
Assistant Minister, Prime Minister's Office Adi Finau Tabakaucoro
Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, and forests Marieta Rigamoto
Assistant Minister for Education Ratu Semi Seruvakula
Assistant Minister for Fijian Affairs Ratu Suliano Matanitobua
Assistant Minister for Internal Affairs Ratu Kolinio Rokotuinaceva
Assistant Minister for Women, Social Welfare, and Culture Adi Senimili Dyer
Assistant Minister for Women, Social Welfare, and Culture Bernadette Rounds Ganilau

SDL/CAMV cabinet, 2001-2006[edit]

As of February 2006, the Cabinet was as follows. Changes to the membership of the Cabinet since 2001 are footnoted.

Portfolio Minister Political Party
Prime Minister,
Minister for Fijian Affairs, Culture and Heritage,
Minister for National Reconciliation and Unity,
Minister for ALTA and Sugar Industry
Laisenia Qarase Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Attorney General,
Minister for Justice
Qoriniasi Bale Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister for Finance and National Planning,
Minister for Communications
Ratu Jone Kubuabola Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister for Education Ro Teimumu Vuikaba Kepa Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister for Commerce, Business Development and Investment Tomasi Vuetilovoni Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister for Home Affairs,
Minister for Immigration
Josefa Vosanibola Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister for Foreign Affairs,
Minister for External Trade
Kaliopate Tavola Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister for Tourism Pita Nacuva Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister for Regional Development Ted Young Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister for Fisheries,
Minister for Forests
Konisi Yabaki Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister for Agriculture, Sugar and Land Resettlement Ilaitia Tuisese Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister for Health Solomone Naivalu Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources Samisoni Tikoinasau [1] Conservative Alliance
Minister for Women,
Minister for Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation
Adi Asenaca Caucau Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister for Transport and Civil Aviation Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu [2] Conservative Alliance
Minister for Local Government, Housing, Squatter Settlement and Environment Pio Wong Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister for Labour, Industrial Relations and Productivity Kenneth Zinck New Labour Unity Party
Minister for Public Enterprises,
Minister for Public Sector Reform
Jonetani Galuinadi Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister for Works,
Minister for Energy
Savenaca Draunidalo Independent
Minister for Youth,
Minister for Employment Opportunities,
Minister for Sports
Isireli Leweniqila Conservative Alliance
Minister for Multi-Ethnic Affairs George Shiu Raj [3] Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister for Information and Media Relations Marieta Rigamoto [4] Independent
Assistant Minister for Fijian Affairs, Culture, and Heritage Nanise Nagusuca Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Assistant Minister for Local Government, Housing, Squatter Settlement and Environment Joji Banuve Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Sugar and Land Resettlement Isireli Tuvuki Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Assistant Minister for Women,
Assistant Minister for Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation
Assistant Minister, Prime Minister's Office
Losena Salabula [5] Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Assistant Minister for Health Tomasi Sauqaqa Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister without portfolio, Prime Minister's Office Simione Kaitani [6] Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
  • [1] Samisoni Tikoinasau was appointed Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources on 8 April 2005, to replace Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, who resigned following his conviction and imprisonment for his role in the Fiji coup of 2000.
  • [2] Following Lalabalavu's release from his extramural imprisonment on 13 September 2005, Prime Minister Qarase announced his reinstatement to the Cabinet as Minister for Transport and Civil Aviation on 20 September, succeeding Simione Kaitani.
  • [3] The position of Minister for Multi-Ethnic Affairs was declared vacant on 30 September 2004, when George Shiu Raj resigned, amid accusations of misuse of government funds. On 13 September 2005, he was reinstated following his acquittal in the High Court.
  • [4] The Information and Media Relations Minister, Senator Ahmed Ali, died in Sydney, Australia, on 8 June 2005. On 12 July, Marieta Rigamoto was appointed to replace him.
  • [5] Salabua was appointed Assistant Minister in the Prime Minister's Office on 18 August 2005, in addition to the portfolios she already held. She succeeded Marieta Rigamoto.
  • [6] On 20 September 2005, Simione Kaitani relinquished his Transport and Civil Aviation portfolio, to join the Prime Minister's Office as a Minister without portfolio.


Multiparty cabinet, 2006[edit]

The following Cabinet was appointed following the parliamentary election held on 6–13 May 2006. It was deposed in the military coup of 5 December 2006. Assistant Ministers in previous Cabinets were replaced by Ministers of State in this Cabinet, with functions essentially unchanged.

Portfolio Minister Political Party
Prime Minister,
Minister for Sugar Reform
Laisenia Qarase SDL
Attorney General,
Minister for Justice
Qoriniasi Bale Senator
Minister for Finance and National Planning Ratu Jone Kubuabola SDL
Minister for Education,
Minister for Youth,
Minister for Sports
Ro Teimumu Vuikaba Kepa Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister for Fijian Affairs,
Minister for Lands,
Minister for Provincial Development
Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister for Fisheries and Forests Ilaitia Tuisese Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister for Information and Communications Isireli Leweniqila Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister for Public Sector Reform Savenaca Draunidalo Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister for Women,
Minister for Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation
George Shiu Raj Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister for Foreign Affairs,
Minister for External Trade
Kaliopate Tavola Senator
Minister for Tourism,
Minister for Transport
Tomasi Vuetilovoni Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister for Multi-Ethnic Affairs,
Minister for National Reconciliation and Unity
Ratu Meli Saukuru Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister for Infrastructure and Public Utilities Robin Irwin Independent
Minister for Home Affairs,
Minister for Immigration
Josefa Vosanibola Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister without portfolio Adi Samanunu Cakobau-Talakuli Senator
Minister for Environment Poseci Bune Fiji Labour Party (FLP)
Minister for Labour and Industrial Relations Krishna Datt Fiji Labour Party
Minister for Curative Health Services Gunasagaran Gounder Fiji Labour Party
Minister for Agriculture Gyani Nand Fiji Labour Party
Minister for Energy,
Minister for Mineral Resources
Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi Fiji Labour Party
Minister for Primary and Preventive Health Services Udit Narayan Fiji Labour Party
Minister for Local Government,
Minister for Urban Development
Chaitanya Lakshman Fiji Labour Party
Minister for Employment Opportunities and Productivity Ragho Nand Fiji Labour Party
Minister for Commerce,
Minister for Industry
Adi Sivia Qoro Fiji Labour Party
Minister of State for Housing Adi Asenaca Caucau Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister of State for Youth and Sports Rajesh Singh [1] Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister of State for Provincial Development Ted Young Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister of State for Public Utilities and Reforms Samisoni Tikoinasau Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister of State, Prime Minister's Office Losena Salabula Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister of State for Fijian Affairs Ro Suliano Matanitobua Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister of State for Agriculture, Alternative Livelihood, and Outer Island Development Ratu Josefa Dimuri Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister of State for Immigration and Ex-Servicemen George Konrote Independent
Minister of State for National Planning Ratu Jone Navakamocea Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister of State for Small Micro Enterprise and IT Industries Pio Tabaiwalu Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister of State for Prison and Correction Service Inoke Luveni Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Minister of State for Education,
Minister of State for Technical and Vocational, and Special Education
Paulo Ralulu Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
  • FLP: Fiji Labour Party
  • SDL: Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
  • Note that the three Senators included in the Cabinet were all members of the SDL, but were not officially counted as such for the purposes of determining the number of Cabinet seats to which political parties were entitled.
  • [1] Dismissed 13 October 2006

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

Preceded by
none (office vacant)
Ratu Tevita Momoedonu
Prime Minister of Fiji
2000 - 2001
2001 - 2006
Succeeded by
Ratu Tevita Momoedonu
Jona Senilagakali