Naiqama Lalabalavu

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Ratu Naiqama Tawake Lalabalavu (born 23 December 1953) is a Fijian Paramount Chief and Member of Parliament. He is President of the Social Democratic Liberal Party.

Tui Cakau[edit]

In 1999, Lalabalavu succeeded his late father, Ratu Glanville Lalabalavu, as the Tui Cakau, or Paramount Chief of Cakaudrove and of the Tovata Confederacy, one of three confederacies to which all Fijian tribes belong. He was challenged in court by Ratu Epeli Ganilau, son of former Fijian President Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau who had himself held the Tui Cakau title prior to his death in 1993, but in 2001, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Lalabalavu.

He is a convert to Roman Catholicism.[1]

Lalabalavu is the father of SODELPA candidate Dr Ratu Atonio Lalabalavu.[2]

Political career[edit]

Lalabalavu was elected to represent the Lau-Taveuni-Rotuma Open Constituency in the House of Representatives in 1999 as a candidate of the ruling Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei (SVT), one of only 8 SVT candidates to win seats. He defeated his chiefly rival, Ratu Epeli Ganilau of the Christian Democratic Alliance, by a margin of 58 percent to 32 percent.

Lalabalavu was appointed Minister for Finian Affairs by George Speight during the 2000 Fijian coup d'état.

By the time the 2001 election was held to restore democracy, some major political realignments had taken place. Now a leading member of the Conservative Alliance, a nationalistic party which included many supporters and associates of George Speight, the chief instigator of the 2000 coup, Lalabalavu won the Cakaudrove East Fijian Communal Constituency), one of 23 reserved for ethnic Fijians in the House of Representatives. In the coalition government that was subsequently formed, Lalabalavu was appointed Minister of Lands and Mineral Resources. The appointment was later harshly criticized by Senator Adi Koila Nailatikau, daughter of former President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, who had been deposed in the coup. She accused him of having ordered the burning of the Matailakeba Cane Farm in Seaqaqa (owned by Ratu Mara) in the midst of an army mutiny at Sukanaivalu Barracks in Labasa on July 29, 2000.

On 6 April 2003, it was reported that Lalabalavu had called for an overhaul of the country's constitutional institutions. Political authority, he said, should be returned to Fiji's chiefs. He said that as it was the chiefs who ceded the islands to the United Kingdom in 1874, paramount authority should have been returned to them when independence was granted in 1970. As a first step, he proposed the abolition of the Senate, the functions of which could be taken over by the Great Council of Chiefs, he said. He opined that restoring the authority of the chiefs would lead to a breaking down of Fiji's race barriers, as the chiefs would then be the leaders not only of the indigenous people, but of all races. His proposal was rejected by Ratu Epeli Ganilau, who was then the Chairman of the Great Council.

He was the Minister for Lands and Minister for Mineral Resources in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, but was forced to resign after being convicted of unlawful assembly and jailed for his actions during the coup.[3] He was subsequently released under a compulsory supervision order, having served only 11 days of his eight month sentence.[4]

The Fiji Village news service reported on 23 February 2006 that some chiefs wished to nominate Lalabalavu for the office of President or Vice-President at the 2006 presidential election. When Great Council of Chiefs met on 8 March, however, it reelected unopposed Ratu Josefa Iloilo and Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi as President and Vice-President, respectively.

Following the parliamentary election held on 6–13 May 2006, he became Minister for Fijian Affairs again, as well as Minister for Lands and Provincial Development. He was deposed in December 2006 by the 2006 Fijian coup d'état.

Post-coup career[edit]

Lalabalavu ran as a candidate for the Social Democratic Liberal Party in the 2014 election, winning 6668 votes, the 6th highest-polling candidate.[5] Following the election he was appointed Shadow Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources.

In May 2015 Lalabalavu was referred to the privileges committee for making derogatory comments about Speaker of Parliament Dr Jiko Luveni at a constituency meeting.[6] He was suspended from Parliament for two years. On July 15, 2015, Ratu Naiqama launched a constitutional challenge, heard by Chief Justice Anthony Gates, against Speaker Jiko Luveni and Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum for his suspension.[7] The case was argued in September 2015,[8] but the suspension expired before a decision was made.[9]

In June 2015 Lalabalavu was elected as SODELPA president. He was re-elected in June 2017.[10]

Lalabalavu had planned to retire from politics, but changed his mind and stood for re-election in the 2018 elections.[2] He was successfully elected,[11] winning 2,165 votes.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Catholics support Methodists, dated 28 August 2008.
  2. ^ a b Wati Talebula (6 October 2018). "Ratu Naiqama Back in SODELPA Team". Fiji Sun. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  3. ^ "Jailed Fiji minister resigns". The New Zealand Herald. April 7, 2005. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
  4. ^ "Sentenced Fiji Lands minister seeks more lenient terms". RNZI. 12 May 2005. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  5. ^ "2014 Election Results". Fiji Elections Office. Archived from the original on 21 September 2014. Retrieved 21 May 2015.
  6. ^ "Ratu Naiqama's comments referred to privileges committee". Fiji Times. 18 May 2015. Retrieved 21 May 2015.
  7. ^ "Fiji MP suspended for slur". Radio New Zealand International. 22 May 2015. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  8. ^ Arieta Vakasukawaqa (30 September 2015). "Ratu Naiqama Constitutional Redress Case". Fiji Sun. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  9. ^ Arieta Vakasukawaqa (22 May 2017). "Speaker Confirms Ratu Naiqama Can Return Today". Fiji Sun. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  10. ^ Arieta Vakasukawaqa (1 July 2017). "Ratu Naiqama Re-elected As SODELPA President". Fiji Sun. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  11. ^ Talebula Kate (18 November 2018). "2018 General Election: SODELPA secures 21 seats". Fiji Times. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
Preceded by
Ratu Glanville Lalabalavu
Tui Cakau
1999–
Succeeded by
current incumbent