Teimumu Kepa

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Teimumu Vuikaba Kepa (born 1945) is a Fijian chief and politician. 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. In addition, she has served in the Fijian Cabinet since 2000, when she joined the interim government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase as minister for women, culture, and social welfare; following the victory of Qarase's United Fiji Party in the parliamentary election held to restore democracy in 2001, she was appointed minister for education, a position she still held as of June 2005. A third position that she held until recently was that of chairperson of the Rewa Provincial Council, to which she was elected on 5 May 2005. This position, too, was held by Ro Lady Lala Mara and had been vacant since her death on 20 July 2004. Kepa resigned from this position in August 2005, however.

On 14 October 2005, Kepa was elected to the executive board of UNESCO, to which the Fijian government had nominated her in late September. The governments of most Pacific Island countries declared their support of her candidacy. The vote is due on 15 October. The board, elected by the General Conference, consists of 58 member states, who hold office for a four-year term. Fiji is no longer on the list as a country in this organisation qualifying under Group IV.

2006 election[edit]

In the parliamentary election held on 6–13 May 2006, Kepa faced a strong challenge for the Rewa Fijian Communal Constituency from her nephew, Ro Filipe Tuisawau. Tuisawau stood as an independent candidate, after failing to wrest the SDL nomination from his aunt. The chiefs and people of Rewa were divided; Kepa triumphed in the end, beating Tuisawau by 56.4 percent to 39.3 percent.

Tuisawau had criticised his aunt for allegedly politicising her chiefly position, which should be above politics, he said. "Politics is something different and this is based on individual choice whereas the chiefly system require the support of the whole vanua and it should not be used for politics," Fiji Live quoted him as saying (3 April 2006).

2009 arrest[edit]

On 23 July 2009, Kepa was arrested on the orders of the military-backed interim government, and charged with breaching public emergency regulations and inciting disobedience to the law. She was released on F$500.00 bail. The arrest followed a letter she had published on the Internet(WWW.MATAVUVALE.COM), offering to host the annual conference of the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma and encouraging people to attend it. The interim government had earlier banned the conference. Arrested with her, on slightly different charges, were two Methodist ministers, Ame Tugaue and Tuikilakila Waqairatu. [1] [2] [3] [4]

Personal life[edit]

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. They had two sons, Filipe and Sailosi, Jr.,, and two daughters, Asenaca and Tupoutu'a.

Preceded by
Ro Lady Lala Mara
Roko Tui Dreketi
Succeeded by
present incumbent
Preceded by
Ro Lady Lala Mara
Chairperson, Rewa Provincial Council
Succeeded by
Pita Tagi Cakiverata