New President Naupoto Or Ratu Wiliame?

The field for potential candidates has narrowed and it now looks that the two front runners for the final lap are Mr Naupoto and Ratu Wiliame.
12 Oct 2021 12:46
New President Naupoto Or Ratu Wiliame?
Former Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) Commander, Rear-Admiral Viliame Naupoto. Left , Tui Macuata Macuata Ratu Wiliame Katonivere. Right


Former Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) Commander, Rear-Admiral Viliame Naupoto, and Tui Macuata Macuata Ratu Wiliame Katonivere are strong contenders to become the new President.

Major-General (Retired) Jioji Konrote finishes his second three-year term as president this month.

The field for potential candidates has narrowed and it now looks that the two front runners for the final lap are Mr Naupoto and Ratu Wiliame.

Here’s how they are placed:


Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto

Mr Naupoto is an ideal choice to be Commander in Chief of the Defence or Armed Forces because of his military experience and background. He has been a loyal ally to Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, a former RFMF and Navy Commander himself.

His ascension to the State House would be a natural progression because of his extensive service in Government and the military.

He will need no introduction to the affairs of the state and Mr Bainimarama and the people of Fiji can rely on him to ensure peace and stability as we face the 2022 General Election and the unprecedented challenges brought upon us by the COVID-19 pandemic.

His rapport with his successor as RFMF Commander, Major-General Ratu Jone Kalouniwai, Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho and Corrections Commissioner Commander Francis Kean completes a ring of leaders committed to the cause of moving Fiji forward in an environment of  freedom, peace and prosperity.

Mr Naupoto joined the RFMF in 1982 and served in the Fijian Navy.

This is a summary of his career from his curriculum vitae:

“During his military career, he has trained widely in Military Tactics, Leadership and Management in Military institutions in New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom, and United States of America. He is a graduate of the Australian Navy Staff College and the Asia Pacific Centre Security Studies in Hawaii.

“He has held senior military appointments within the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, such as Commander Fiji Navy, and Director Finance and Logistics, before being seconded to the Civil Service in 2007 as Director of Immigration, a post he held for two years.

“In 2009 he was appointed as Permanent Secretary for Fisheries and Forest until 22 February 2012 when he was sworn in as Minister for Youth and Sports and served in that portfolio until elections in September 2014.

“Rear Admiral Naupoto served for two years for peacekeeping duties with United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and six months with the Truce Monitoring group in Bougainville.

“Rear Admiral Naupoto has served in various board and held appointments as Chairman of the Fiji Trade and Investment Bureau (FTIB), Chairman Fiji Pine Group and board member of the Fiji Audio Visual Commission. He is currently the Deputy Chairman of the Fijian Holding Limited Board and Chairman of South Seas Cruises Limited.

“Rear Admiral Naupoto rejoined the Republic of Fiji Military Forces on 2 February 2015 and was appointed Chief of Staff Republic of Fiji Military Forces. On 30 August 2015, he was appointed as Acting Commander Republic of Fiji Military Forces and promoted to Commodore. He was promoted to his current rank of Rear Admiral on 14 October 2015. On 4 March 2016, he was appointed as substantive Commander Republic of Fiji Military Forces.

“Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto is an Officer of the Order of Fiji Military Division. Rear Admiral Naupoto is married to Lilian and they have 4 children.”


Ratu Wiliame Katonivere

Ratu Wiliame would continue the tradition of chiefs being appointed to the position. The only time this was broken was when Mr Konrote was appointed in 2015. As a Rotuman, he is also the first non-iTaukei to be President.

Ratu Wiliame who was earlier seen as a hot favorite because of his close association with Fiji First is a busy man. He is not only the paramount chief of his province and chairperson of the Macuata Provincial Council.

Outside of his traditional role, he is chairman of the Pine Group of Companies. He was appointed last year to replace the late Faiz Khan who was responsible for turning around the group’s fortunes after years of losses. So Ratu Wiliame has a key role to maintain the growth.

The Pine Group of Companies includes Fiji Pine Limited, Tropik Wood Industries Limited, and Tropik Wood Products Limited.

Ratu Wiliame said after his appointment that he had no illusions about the enormity of his responsibility in the current COVID-19 economic environment.

“I have big shoes to fill after the demise of Mr Khan, but at present, all operations in the pine industry are running smoothly and we have not had to make any layoff of workers. We are going through a very tough period, but we have a good management team who have kept up the good work, “ he said then.

He is also a board member for Fiji Airports, Fiji Sugar Corporation and Rewa Rice Ltd. He is also involved in the mining sector. So he is a busy man and that may count against him in key roles.

Parliament will convene on October 22 to formalise the appointment of the new President.



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