Feature

Former Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, Passes Away After Short Illness

Mr Qarase is survived by his wife Leba Qarase, seven children, 26 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
22 Apr 2020 14:57
Former Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, Passes Away After Short Illness
The late former prime minister Laisenia Qarase.

Former Prime Minister and leader of the Soqosoqo Duavata Ni Lewe Ni Vanua party (SDL) Laisenia Qarase has passed away.

He was 79 years old.

Mr Qarase passed away at the Oceania Hospital in Suva yesterday morning after a short illness.

This was confirmed by close family member and mata ni vanua Tui Kobuca, Mesake Koroi, yesterday.

Mr Qarase led the SDL Party to two successful parliamentary elections until the military cleanup takeover in 2006 amidst concerns over corruption, racist policy and abuse of office.

He had strong support in SDL and its successor SODELPA.

In 2012, he was convicted and jailed for one year for corruption-related offences and abuse of office.

Mr Koroi said: “Qarase being a village boy will be laid to rest at his home village of Mavana in Vanuabalavu.

“In respecting his last wishes, there shall be no reguregu.”

Mr Koroi said funeral arrangements were yet to be finalised.

Mr Qarase is survived by his wife Leba Qarase, seven children, 26 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Tribute

Close colleague and member of the SDL Party, George Shiu Raj, said the late Mr Qarase was a humble visionary man.

Mr Shiu Raj said whilst he was the only Indo-Fijian serving in Cabinet under Qarase’s leadership, there was not a point in time in his political career that he was treated like a minority.

He said the establishment of the Ministry of Multi-ethnic affairs during his leadership was proof that he cared about the affairs of all Fijians.

“He was always happy to serve everyone that came into his office, he had the heart of service, he prioritised all Fijians, no matter what race, colour or creed,” Mr Shiu Raj said.

He added: “Mr Qarase will not be forgotten, he was full of love and compassion and though he became a Prime Minister, his faith was steadfast and his love for his family and those around him never changed.”

Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma

President of the Methodist Church in Fiji Reverend Epineri Vakadewavosa described Mr Qarase as a man of valour who was dedicated to God’s calling in his life.

Mr Qarase served as the chairman of the Lako Yani Management Pte Limited, the business arm of the Methodist Church in Fiji, which was established in 2016.

According to Rev Vakadewavosa, he was a dedicated member of the Centenary Methodist Church, Suva, for many years.

“He was true and faithful to the work he had carried out for the church,” Rev Vakadewavosa said.

“He was a great leader and he had spearheaded numerous church projects that we are grateful for today.

“He has left behind a great legacy and he was very knowledgeable and smart.”

Rev Vakadewavosa said it was through his visionary leadership that the Lako Yani Management Pte Limited was established in 2016 which continues to serve the church well since its inception.

Edited by Ivamere Nataro

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