Hon. Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Fiji
Hon. Ratu Epeli Nailatikau was elected as the new Speaker of the Fijian Parliament on the 11th day of February, 2019 following the demise of the late Speaker, Hon. Dr Jiko Luveni in December 2018. This is not a new appointment for Hon. Ratu Epeli Nailatikau as he was the Speaker of the House of Representatives from 2001 to 2006 under the bi-cameral legislative system.
Prior to his appointment as Speaker, Hon. Ratu Nailatikau served as Fiji’s President for six years from 2009 to 2015. During this period he was invested as a Knight Justice in the Most Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem and also appointed Chancellor of the University of Fiji. He also served as Vice President of Fiji in 2009.
Hon. Ratu Nailatikau’s career began in 1962 when he joined the then Royal Fiji Military Forces (‘RFMF’). In 1963, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the RFMF after attending a First Appointment to Commission Course at the Army Schools in Waiouru, New Zealand. He then served as aide-de-camp to four Governors of Fiji from 1965 to 1969.
After attending the Foreign Service Course at Oxford University in the United Kingdom, Hon. Ratu Nailatikau served as Second Secretary to the Fiji High Commission in Canberra from 1970 to 1972 and then to the Fiji Mission to the United Nations in New York from 1972 to 1974.
He rejoined the RFMF in 1975. In 1978 he was appointed Commanding Officer of the First Battalion Fiji Infantry Regiment (1FIR) FIJI BAT ONE and promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel for peace-keeping duties with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). This was the first time that Fiji soldiers were deployed on peace-keeping duties with the UN.
Hon. Ratu Nailatikau worked in various roles within the RFMF before being appointed the Commander from 1982 to 1987. He was later promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General in 1986.
In 1988, Hon. Ratu Nailatikau was appointed as Fiji’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom where he served for 8 years and accredited as Fiji’s Ambassador to Denmark, Egypt, Germany, Israel and the Holy See. In 1998, he was appointed Roving Ambassador and High Commissioner in the Pacific with special responsibility for Fiji’s Peacekeeping contribution with the Peace Monitoring Group in Bougainville, PNG. Hon. Ratu Nailatikau then took up the post of Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs and External Trade in 1999.
He served as the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Fijian Affairs in the interim Government from June 2000 to March 2001. He continued serving in this post under the caretaker Government until September 2001 before taking on the role of Speaker of the House of Representatives. In October 2006, he was appointed Ambassador in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before serving as the Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade in January of 2007. Hon. Ratu Nailatikau was then appointed Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Provincial Development and Multi Ethnic Affairs in October 2008.
On 10 June 2005, Hon. Ratu Nailatikau was appointed the UN AIDS Special Representative for the Pacific and was also appointed as Fiji’s representative for HIV/AIDS in 2007. In his commitment in advocating on AIDS related issues, Hon. Ratu Nailatikau was appointed the UN AIDS Regional Goodwill Ambassador for the Pacific Region in 2015. In this new role, Hon. Ratu Nailatikau believes that it is time to fast track the HIV response and emphasised that he will work tirelessly to end the AIDS epidemic not only in Fiji but throughout the Pacific.
Throughout his career, Hon. Ratu Nailatikau has attended many conferences and meetings in his role as Speaker of the House of Representatives likewise for being a champion in his commitment to end the HIV and AIDS epidemic. Conferences include the Inter-Parliamentary Union meetings, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meetings, Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forums, Presiding Officers and Clerks conferences and High-level Symposiums on HIV/AIDS.