Asia

Fiji profile - leaders

  • 28 December 2015
  • From the section Asia

President: Jioji Konousi Konrote

Prime minister: Frank Bainimarama

Image copyright Getty Images

Frank Bainimarama was sworn in as prime minister in September 2014, eight years after seizing power in a bloodless coup.

He formally took office following a landslide election victory that delivered the legitimacy that had previously eluded the regime that grabbed power in 2006.

He had stepped down as military leader to take part in the election, declaring himself a convert to democracy.

He proudly pointed to the constitution he introduced the previous year, which for the first time gave ethnic Indians the same voting rights as indigenous Fijians.

Mr Bainimarama joined Fiji's navy as an ordinary seaman aged 21 and earned a commission after two years, receiving training in New Zealand, Australia, the United States and Malaysia.

Military commander

He served two stints as a UN peacekeeper in Sinai on his way to becoming commander of the country's military forces in 1999.

At the time of the 2006 coup, he said the army was the only institution disciplined enough to usher in real reform, describing it as a long overdue "clean up".

The intervention was needed, he argued, to end widespread corruption and root out entrenched discrimination against ethnic Indians, who make up about 40% of the 900,000 population.

But key regional allies such as Australia and New Zealand labelled him a dictator and imposed sanctions, while the Commonwealth and Pacific Islands Forum suspended Fiji's membership when he reneged on a pledge to hold elections in 2009.