Naiqama Lalabalavu

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Ratu Naiqama Tawake Lalabalavu (born 23 December 1953) is a Fijian Paramount Chief and politician. As of 2015, 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]

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.

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, prior to his resignation on 7 April 2005.[2]

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, as well as Minister for Lands and Provincial Development. He was deposed in December 2006 when Frank Bainimarama took over the government and dissolved parliament.

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.[3] 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.[4] 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. He is being represented by Julian Moti QC and Simione Valenitabua while Soliciter General Sharvada Sharma represents Khaiyum And Luveni.[5][6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Catholics support Methodists, dated 28 August 2008.
  2. ^ "Jailed Fiji minister resigns". The New Zealand Herald. April 7, 2005. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  3. ^ "2014 Election Results". Fiji Elections Office. Retrieved 21 May 2015. 
  4. ^ "Ratu Naiqama's comments referred to privileges committee". Fiji Times. 18 May 2015. Retrieved 21 May 2015. 
  5. ^ "Fiji MP suspended for slur". Radio New Zealand International. 22 May 2015. Retrieved 22 May 2015. 
  6. ^ Template:Cite web jurl=http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=316044
Preceded by
Ratu Glanville Lalabalavu
Tui Cakau
1999–
Succeeded by
current incumbent