Rabuka lauds appointment of Fiji’s new head of State
23 October, 2021, 3:00 pm
Former prime minister and People’s Alliance Party leader Sitiveni Rabuka has lauded the appointment of the Tui Macuata as Fiji’s new President, saying the move was “a big turnaround from when Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama had told the Great Council of Chiefs to go drink homebrew under the mango tree”.
He said the Government had now gone back to the descendants of the signatories to the 1874 Deed of Cession.
Mr Rabuka said Government and the Opposition’s presidential nominees signified the respect people still had for Fiji’s chiefly system.
Ratu Wiliame Katonivere was nominated by the FijiFirst party and garnered 28 votes, while Opposition nominee Ro Teimumu Kepa received 23 votes after voting in Parliament yesterday.
Unity Fiji Party leader Savenaca Narube said Mr Bainimarama had the prerogative to nominate whoever he thought should be President, adding it was important for Ratu Wiliame to maintain the independence of his high office.
“I think we should all support the new President in his role of leading Fiji and I certainly wish him well in his role and hope that he’ll bring the independence of that position that is still required and particularly the independence of seeking legal advice from independent legal sources and not rely entirely on the government legal advice,” he said.
Former prime minister and Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry said Section 83 (1) (c) of the 2013 Constitution disqualified anyone who is a member, or holder of any office in any political party from being a candidate for the Office of the President.
“I, therefore, consider both nominees whose names were proposed in Parliament this (yesterday) morning to be disqualified from being proposed as candidates,” he said.
“Both the nominees are disqualified within the spirit and intent of the Constitution. The Office of the President is supposed to be apolitical, divorced from any political party affiliation.”
Mr Chaudhry said Ratu Wiliame was known to be the president of the FijiFirst party as per the information last published by the Registrar of Political Parties in December, 2020.
“When did he vacate that office? We have not seen any notice of his resignation from the post or as a member of FijiFirst. Surely if the president of a ruling political party resigns, it should be a matter of public information. In any case, one cannot be president of a political party one day and the next day become President of the nation. It makes a total mockery of the Constitution.”
“I am surprised that the Opposition made the same mistake. Ro Teimumu Kepa is a sitting member of Parliament of the Opposition party.
“Her nomination should not have been entertained on the floor of the House. What is worse, the Speaker should have known better. But he allowed this comedy,” he said.