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ANALYSIS: First Four Fit For Presidential Race

Speculation has begun on who is in the running to be our new President. While it may be early days yet, some names have emerged as possible candidates to replace
18 Feb 2015 08:09
ANALYSIS: First Four Fit For Presidential Race

Speculation has begun on who is in the running to be our new President.

While it may be early days yet, some names have emerged as possible candidates to replace incumbent Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.

Ratu Epeli finishes at the end of the year.

The Speaker of Parliament, Jiko Luveni, is one of the first names to be thrown into the hat.

If she accepts it, it would be a simple transfer from Parliament to Government House.

At the moment, she is relishing her role as Speaker of Parliament, learning and gaining experience.

She has now got a better grip of the Standing Orders, the set of rules that govern parliamentary proceedings.

A new speaker to replace her would have to go through this learning curve. It can be taxing and challenging at times, but it’s rewarding experience when national issues are resolved after debates, as she is finding out.

She could turn down the invitation, preferring to stay on as Speaker.

But if she opts for a change and she is successfully voted through by Parliament, she will become the first woman President, her second first.

She is also the first woman Speaker.

Another woman who could slot seamlessly into the President’s role is Nazhat Shameem – Fiji’s first Permanent Representative to the United Nations office in Geneva.

Like Mrs Luveni, she is a trailblazer.

The question though is whether she is needed more in Geneva or in Suva.  Her wide legal experience gives her an added advantage. Mrs Luveni and Ms Shameem, both have the elegance, dignity and the persona to give the office the respect it requires.

Another name that has emerged is Brigadier-General Ioane Naivalurua.

The Ambassador at Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was tipped to be the new Head of Mission and Force Commander of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).

But Major-General Purna Chandra Thapa of Nepal was instead appointed to replace Lieutenant-General Iqbal Singh Singha from India.

Brigadier-General Naivalurua has the credentials and looks presidential too.

His experience in the disciplined forces and foreign affairs makes him a suitable candidate.

Ro Epeli Mataitini, the Vunivalu of Rewa, is another possible candidate.

He is retired after a career in agriculture which took him to the Solomons. He and his family are strong supporters of the FijiFirst Government.

In a Rewa Provincial Council meeting last year, he challenged Rewa paramount chief, the Roko Tui Dreketi and SODELPA leader Ro Teimumu Kepa for inviting SODELPA MP Niko Nawaikula, a lawyer, to speak in the meeting.

All four have the capacity to continue the great work being done by the President. They all endorse the FijiFirst Government policies.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and Leader of the Opposition Ro Teimumu Kepa will nominate a name each in Parliament.

The Speaker will then put the issue to vote. The winner becomes the new president.

Mr Bainimarama’s nominee will be voted in because his Government side has an overwhelming majority.

More names will surface in the coming months as the search continues for the new President.

In this first mix, there are three commoners and one chief. Previously, only chiefs were eligible to hold office and the President is chosen by the dissolved Great Council of Chiefs.

The new Constitution stipulates that we have a common identity, we are all called Fijians with equal rights.

It means anyone can be appointed President, not just  a select few.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 




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