President of Fiji

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President of the
Republic of Fiji
Standard of the President of Fiji.svg
Presidential Standard
Nailatikau.jpg
Incumbent
Epeli Nailatikau

since 5 November 2009
Appointer Great Council of Chiefs
Term length 5 years
Inaugural holder Penaia Ganilau
Formation 5 December 1987
Coat of arms of Fiji.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Fiji
Constitution
Judiciary

The President of the Republic of Fiji is the head of state of Fiji. The President was appointed by the Great Council of Chiefs for a five-year term under the terms of the now-suspended 1997 constitution. The Great Council of Chiefs was constitutionally required to consult the Prime Minister, but this did not give the Prime Minister a veto, only the right to be consulted. Although not entirely a figurehead, the President's role in government is mostly ceremonial, but there are important reserve powers that may be exercised in the event of a crisis. In addition, the President is Commander-in-Chief of the Military Forces. Within the chiefly hierarchy, however, the President holds a lower ranking than the Paramount Chief of Fiji, currently Elizabeth II, Ilisapeci-Na Radi ni Viti kei Peritania.[1]

Presidential history[edit]

The presidential office was established following two military coups in 1987 that led to the proclamation of a republic on 7 October, ending the Fijian monarchy. Major-General Sitiveni Rabuka, who had masterminded the coups, formed an Interim Military Government with himself as its head. He did not, however, take the title of President, and on 5 December appointed Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau, the last Governor-General, as the first President of the republic.

A civilian putsch instigated by George Speight led to another constitutional upheaval in 2000. President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara resigned on 29 May rather than abrogate the Constitution, as the Military, supported by the Supreme Court, had asked. (Whether or not his resignation was forced is the subject of an ongoing police investigation.) Commodore Frank Bainimarama took power as Head of the Interim Military Government (as had Rabuka in 1987), until Ratu Josefa Iloilo was appointed President on 13 July.

On 5 December 2006, the Military again overthrew the government. Bainimarama declared himself Acting President; he initially said that he had assumed the office in an interim capacity, and would soon ask the Great Council of Chiefs to reinstate Iloilo, but on 17 December he insisted that he was now the President and that the Great Council should recognize him as such.[2] Iloilo was re-instated as President on 4 January 2007.

In January 2008, Bainimarama stated that the military was "the executive authority in the appointment of the President", following the suspension of the Great Council of Chiefs. The President would be a military appointee, until a reformed GCC were installed.[3]

A few days later, Citizens Constitutional Forum director Reverend Akuila Yabaki suggested that the position of President should, in future, be open to persons of any ethnicity, rather than reserved for indigenous Fijians. This suggestion was controversial, and was notably opposed by deposed Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase. A Rewa chief, Ro Filipe Tuisawau, also opposed the idea, and stated his view on the function of the presidency:

"The position of the president symbolises unity of both traditional structures of leadership which existed before parliamentary rule was established and the current Westminster system of parliament. This is where the Western system meets our traditional vanua system and we acknowledge the indigenous leadership that has evolved and catered for all races in our multi-cultural society. By nominating the President the nation is acknowledging the role our chiefs have played in society and I think the Fijian people would appreciate that the status quo stay." [4]

On 28 July 2009, Iloilo announced that he would be leaving office on 30 July.[5] Brigadier-General Ratu Epeli Nailatikau succeeded him as acting President. On 5 November 2009, Nailatikau was sworn in as President.[6]

In March 2012, the Bainimarama government de-established the Great Council of Chiefs by decree. Bainimarama confirmed this meant there would need to be a new method to appoint the President; this, he said, would be provided by a new Constitution, to be adopted in 2013 following consultations with the people.[7]

List of Presidents of Fiji (1987–present)[edit]

# Image Name
(Birth–Death)
Term start Term end Political Party
Head of the Interim Military Government
No image.png Major-General
Sitiveni Rabuka
(1948–)
7 October 1987 5 December 1987 Military Forces
Presidents of the Republic
1 No image.png Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau
(1918–1993)
5 December 1987 15 December 1993 Independent
2 Kamisese Mara.jpg Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara
(1920–2004)
18 January 1994
Acting since
16 December 1993
29 May 2000 Independent
Head of the Interim Military Government
Bainimarama 2014.jpg Commodore
Frank Bainimarama
(1954–)
29 May 2000 13 July 2000 Military Forces
President of the Republic
3 Josefa Iloilo.jpg Ratu Josefa Iloilo
(1920–2011)
13 July 2000 5 December 2006 Independent
Head of the Interim Military Government
Bainimarama 2014.jpg Commodore
Frank Bainimarama
(1954–)
5 December 2006 17th September 2014 Military Forces
Presidents of the Republic
(3) Josefa Iloilo.jpg Ratu Josefa Iloilo
(1920–2011)
4 January 2007 30 July 2009 Independent
4 Nailatikau.jpg Brigadier-General
Ratu Epeli Nailatikau
(1941–)
5 November 2009
Acting since
30 July 2009
Incumbent Independent

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Literally, "Elizabeth, Queen of Fiji and Britain"
  2. ^ http://www.fijilive.com/news/show/news/2006/12/18/Fijilive13.html
  3. ^ "Voreqe: Army is executive authority", Fiji Times, January 2, 2008
  4. ^ "Keep President Fijian", Robert Matau, Fiji Times, 7 January 2008
  5. ^ President of military-led Fiji plans to step down, AP, 28 July 2009
  6. ^ Nailatikau sworn in as Fiji's new President. News.xinhuanet.com (2009-11-05). Retrieved on 2012-05-04.
  7. ^ "Fiji to have a new system to elect president", FijiVillage, 14 March 2012