President of Fiji

President of the
Republic of Fiji

Presidential Standard
George Konrote

since 12 November 2015
Residence Government House, Suva
Appointer Parliament of Fiji
Term length 3 years
Inaugural holder Penaia Ganilau
Formation 5 December 1987
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The President of the Republic of Fiji is the Head of State of Fiji. The President is appointed by the Parliament of Fiji for a three-year term under the terms of the 2013 Constitution of Fiji.[1] Although not entirely a figurehead, the President's role in government is mostly ceremonial, but there are important reserve powers that may be exercised in the event of a crisis. In addition, the President is Commander-in-Chief of the Military Forces.

History of the office

The office of 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 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.[2] 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.[3]

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."[4]

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

In March 2012, the Bainimarama government disestablished the Great Council of Chiefs by decree. 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.[7]

On 12 October 2015, the Parliament elected Major-General (Rtd) George Konrote as President.[8] He was sworn in on 12 November 2015.

List of Presidents of Fiji (1987–present)

No. Portrait Name
Term start Term end Political Party
Head of the Interim Military Government
Sitiveni Rabuka
7 October 1987 5 December 1987 Military
Presidents of the Republic of Fiji
1 Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau
5 December 1987 15 December 1993 Independent
2 Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara
18 January 1994
Acting since
16 December 1993
29 May 2000 Independent
Head of the Interim Military Government
Frank Bainimarama
29 May 2000 13 July 2000 Military
President of the Republic of Fiji
3 Ratu Josefa Iloilo
13 July 2000 5 December 2006 Independent
Head of the Interim Military Government
Frank Bainimarama
5 December 2006 4 January 2007 Military
Presidents of the Republic of Fiji
(3) Ratu Josefa Iloilo
4 January 2007 30 July 2009 Independent
4 Brigadier-General (Rtd)
Ratu Epeli Nailatikau
5 November 2009
Acting since
30 July 2009
12 November 2015 Independent
5 Major-General (Rtd)
George Konrote
12 November 2015 Incumbent Independent

See also


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