Teimumu Kepa

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Ro Teimumu Vuikaba Kepa (born 1945) is a Fijian chief and Member of the Parliament of Fiji. She is currently leader of the Social Democratic Liberal Party and Leader of the Opposition.

Personal life[edit]

A former students' coordinator at the University of the South Pacific when Kepa chose to enter the University to embark on her Bachelor of Arts and was a principal of Corpus Christi College before that, until she succeeded her late sister, former First Lady Ro Lady Lala Mara, as Roko Tui Dreketi, or Paramount Chief of Dreketi, in 2004. This is considered to be the highest title in the Burebasaga Confederacy, one of three "confederacies", or tribal networks, of Fijian chiefs.

Ro Teimumu Kepa is the widow of Sailosi Kepa, a former high commissioner to London, minister of justice and attorney general (1988–1992) who went on to become a High Court judge, Ombudsman, and first chairman of Fiji's Human Rights Commission.

Political career[edit]

In 1999 Kepa was appointed to the Senate. Following the 2000 Fijian coup d'état she was appointed as Minister for Women, Culture, and Social Welfare in the interim government of Laisenia Qarase.[1] She contested the 2001 election as a candidate for the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua in the Rewa communal constituency, winning it with 2,636 votes. Following the election she was appointed as Minister for Education.

On 5 May 2005 she was elected as chairperson of the Rewa Provincial Council, a position previously held by her sister Ro Lady Lala Mara. This led to claims that she had forfeitted her seat in Parliament,[2] resulting in her resigning from the council in August 2005.

In October 2005, Kepa was elected to the executive board of UNESCO, to which the Fijian government had nominated her in late September.[3]

Kepa stood again for Rewa in the 2006 election, defeating her nephew, Ro Filipe Tuisawau. She was reappointed as Minister for Education, Youth and Sports in the multi-party cabinet. When the Qarase government was deposed by the 2006 Fijian coup d'état, Kepa joined a court case challenging the legality of the coup.[4] She also used her position in the Great Council of Chiefs to oppose the coup, and was instrumental in the Council's 2007 rejection of Epeli Nailatikau nomination as Vice-President.[5] As a result the Council was suspended.[6]

In May 2007, Kepa was threatened by the military over her opposition to the coup.[7] However she continued to speak out against the regime and its People's Charter for Change, Peace and Progress.[8][9] In July 2009 she was arrested and charged with breaching public emergency regulations and conspiracy to cause disorder after offering that her province would host the annual conference of the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma, which the military regime had banned.[10] The charges were later dropped.[11] In 2011 the military regime suspended the Rewa Provincial Council in another effort to silence her.[12]

In March 2014 Kepa was elected as leader of the newly-formed Social Democratic Liberal Party.[13] She contested the 2014 election as leader of the party, winning election with 49,485 votes, the second-highest ranked candidate.[14]

On 24 September 2014 Kepa was appointed Leader of the Opposition.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Fiji president reappoints Qarase as PM". New Zealand Herald. 2000-07-28. Retrieved 2014-09-24. 
  2. ^ "Education Minister must resign". Fiji Labour Party. 2005-05-11. Retrieved 2014-09-24. 
  3. ^ "Fiji's Ro Teimumu on UNESCO board". Pacific Islands Broadcasting Association. 2005-10-19. Retrieved 2014-09-24. 
  4. ^ "Former FLP cabinet minister joins legal action against Fiji interim administration". Radio New Zealand International. 2007-02-21. Retrieved 2014-09-24. 
  5. ^ "Fiji chiefs meeting urged to nominate new vice-presidential candidate". Radio New Zealand International. 2007-04-12. Retrieved 2014-09-24. 
  6. ^ "Fiji administration gazettes suspension of Great Council of Chiefs". Radio New Zealand International. 2007-04-19. Retrieved 2014-09-24. 
  7. ^ "Former Fiji education minister reasserts her right to speak out on current events". Radio New Zealand International. 2007-05-16. Retrieved 2014-09-24. 
  8. ^ "Fiji paramount chief critical of bishop over his role in People's Charter". Radio New Zealand International. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2014-09-24. 
  9. ^ "Leaders of three Fiji confederacies question provisions in draft Charter". Radio New Zealand International. 2008-08-28. Retrieved 2014-09-24. 
  10. ^ "Chief, clerics in court". Fiji Times. 2009-07-24. Retrieved 2014-09-24. 
  11. ^ "Charges dropped against Fiji high chief Ro Teimumu Kepa". Radio New Zealand International. 2010-09-08. Retrieved 2014-09-24. 
  12. ^ "Rewa Provincial Council meeting suspended in Fiji". Radio New Zealand International. 2011-11-18. Retrieved 2014-09-24. 
  13. ^ "Ro Teimumu Kepa is the new leader of SODELPA". Fiji Today. 2014-03-07. Retrieved 2014-09-24. 
  14. ^ "2014 Election Results". Fiji Elections Office. Retrieved 2014-09-23. 
  15. ^ Nasik Swami (2014-09-24). "Ro Teimumu is Leader of the Opposition". Fiji Times. Retrieved 2014-09-24. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Rasigatale, Manoa (2003). Ro Teimumu - A Fijian Princess. Fiji: Mak Heritage. ISBN 2770000008655. 
Preceded by
vacant
Leader of the Opposition
2014–present
Succeeded by
(incumbent)
Preceded by
Ro Lady Lala Mara
Roko Tui Dreketi
2004–present
Succeeded by
present incumbent
Preceded by
Ro Lady Lala Mara
Chairperson, Rewa Provincial Council
2005
Succeeded by
Pita Tagi Cakiverata
(acting)