President of Fiji

The president of Fiji is the head of state of the Republic of Fiji. The president is appointed by the Parliament for a three-year term under the terms of the 2013 Constitution of Fiji.[1] Although not entirely a figurehead, the role of president in the government is largely ceremonial, but there are important reserve powers that may be exercised in the event of a crisis. In addition, the president is the commander-in-chief of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.

President of the Republic of Fiji
Flag of the President of Fiji.svg
Ratu Wiliame Katonivere 12 NOV 21.jpg
Incumbent
Wiliame Katonivere

since 12 November 2021
StyleHis Excellency
StatusHead of state
ResidenceState House
AppointerParliament of Fiji
Term lengthThree years, renewable once[1]
PrecursorGovernor-General of Fiji
Inaugural holderPenaia Ganilau
Formation5 December 1987; 34 years ago (1987-12-05)
DeputyChief Justice of Fiji
SalaryFJ$130,000 annually[2]

History of the officeEdit

The office of the president 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 was the subject of a police investigation that continued up to the time of the 2006 coup). Commodore Frank Bainimarama took power as the 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 forces 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 recognise him as such.[3] 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.[4]

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 multicultural 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."[5]

On 28 July 2009, Iloilo announced that he would be leaving office on 30 July.[6] Brigadier-General (Rtd) Ratu Epeli Nailatikau succeeded him as acting president. On 5 November 2009, Nailatikau was sworn in as president.[7]

In March 2012, the Bainimarama government disestablished the Great Council of Chiefs by decree.[8][9] 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.[10]

On 12 October 2015, the Parliament elected Major-General (Rtd) Jioji Konrote as president.[11] On 12 November 2015, Konrote was sworn in as president.[12] On 31 August 2018, Konrote was re-elected as president.[13]

On 22 October 2021, the Parliament elected Ratu Wiliame Katonivere as president.[14] On 12 November 2021, Katonivere was sworn in as president.[15]

List of presidentsEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Constitution of the Republic of Fiji" (PDF). 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 September 2015.
  2. ^ Government of Fiji Gazette (3 October 2014). "PARLIAMENTARY REMUNERATIONS DECREE 2014 (DECREE NO. 29 OF 2014)" (PDF). www.parliament.gov.fj.
  3. ^ http://www.fijilive.com/news/show/news/2006/12/18/Fijilive13.html
  4. ^ "Voreqe: Army is executive authority" Archived 13 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Fiji Times, 2 January 2008
  5. ^ "Keep President Fijian" Archived 23 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Robert Matau, Fiji Times, 7 January 2008
  6. ^ President of military-led Fiji plans to step down, AP, 28 July 2009
  7. ^ Nailatikau sworn in as Fiji's new President. News.xinhuanet.com (5 November 2009). Retrieved on 4 May 2012.
  8. ^ "Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs abolished". Stuff. 14 March 2012. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  9. ^ "REMARKS BY THE PRIME MINISTER ON THE GREAT COUNCIL OF CHIEFS (GCC)" Archived 19 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine, government of Fiji
  10. ^ "Fiji to have a new system to elect president", FijiVillage, 14 March 2012
  11. ^ "Fiji Parliament elects new President". Radio New Zealand International. 12 October 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  12. ^ "Fiji swears in new president". Radio New Zealand International. 12 November 2015. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  13. ^ "Konrote reappointed Fiji's president". Radio New Zealand International. 31 August 2018. Retrieved 6 May 2021.
  14. ^ "Ratu Wiliame is Fiji's new Head of State". Fiji Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  15. ^ "New President sworn in". Fiji Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 12 November 2021.