Hon Sitiveni Rabuka

Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji

Sitiveni Ligamamada Rabuka, 74 was elected Prime Minister of Fiji on the floor of Fiji’s parliament on 24 December 2022 following the country’s general elections ten days earlier. He became Fiji’s 7th elected Prime Minister, but the first to be elected by Fiji’s parliament, as well as the first elected leader to serve twice in the high office since independence from the United Kingdom in 1970.

Mr Rabuka first became Prime Minister of Fiji for seven years between 1992 and 1999, having served earlier as Deputy Prime Minister in the interim government of the late Prime Minister, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara from 1991 to 1992.

He hails from the village of Drekeniwai, in the district of Navatu and the province of Cakaudrove, located on Fiji’s second largest island of Vanua Levu in the north of the country. Mr Rabuka is a true loyalist of Cakaudrove province. He was born in Cakaudrove, attended primary school in Cakaudrove and completed intermediate schooling there too, at the provincial school in Bucalevu, on the island of Taveuni.

For secondary education, Mr Rabuka got accepted into the prestigious all-boys public boarding school Queen Victoria School (QVS), located on Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu, in the north-eastern province of Tailevu. Apart from pursuing academic learning, Mr Rabuka excelled in sports, donning the school colours in athletics, cricket, hockey and rugby union. He was elected Head Prefect in his final year at QVS in 1967.

Fiji military was his career of choice when he completed high school education. From the lowest rank of private when he walked into the Queen Elizabeth Barracks as a recruit in 1968, Mr Rabuka retired 23 years later in 1991 as a Major General. He was commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) from 1987 to 1991 and among the leadership roles he assumed through his rise up the ranks were Commanding Officer of the Fiji Batallion with the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) from 1980 – 1981; Chief of Staff of the RFMF in 1981-1982; Commanding Officer of the Fiji Battalion with the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in Sinai in 1983- 1985; SO 1 Operations & Training at RFMF HQ in 1985 – 1987.

Mr Rabuka attended military training both in Fiji and abroad during his 23 year career in the military. This included the New Zealand Army School in Waiouru in 1968, India’s Defence Services Staff College in 1979 and the Australian Joint Services Staff College in Canberra in 1982. Miitary secondments were with the New Zealand Army in 1972 to 1973, and the 6th Queen Elizabeth’s own Gurkha Rifles ( 6QEO GR), the 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (3RHA) and the 48 Infantry Brigade HQ at Sek Kong Military Camp of the British Army in Hong Kong’s northern territories in 1974.

His exceptional bravery in Lebanon in 1980, in rescuing a senior French officer while under hostile enemy fire earned him the distinguished Legion D’Honneur 3rd Class Honour from the French Government. This was later upgraded to 2nd Class of Grande Officier by the then French President Jacques Chirac in 1997. He was also honoured with the Order of the British Empire (OBE – Military Division); Officer of the Order of St John; and Meritorious Service Decoration as a commissioned officer of the Fiji Military Forces.

He holds a masters in military science degree from Madras University in India in 1979, and a honorary doctorate from the Central Queensland University in 1998.

As in his high school days at Queen Victoria, Mr Rabuka was able to pursue his love for sports which saw his selection into Fiji’s national rugby team from 1970 to 1977. He also represented his country in athletics, playing in the South Pacific Games in 1971, where he was Team Captain and Flag Bearer, and he performed the dual roles again in 1974 at the Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, New Zealand.

In public service, Mr Rabuka not only served as Deputy Prime Minister (1991 – 1992) and Prime Minister (1992 – 1999), he also assumed high profile roles as the Commonwealth Secretary General’s Specil Envoy in Solomon islands (1999 – 2000), Chairman of Fiji’s Great Council of Chiefs (1999- 2001), Chairman of Cakaudrove Provincial Council (2001 – 2009), Chairman of Cakaudrove Provincial Holdings Company Limited and Leader of Opposition (Nov 2018 – Dec 2020).

Following Fiji’s political upheavals in 2000 and again in 2006, Mr Rabuka did not contest any general election until November 2018 as Leader of the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA). When he resigned as Leader of Opposition in December 2020, he went onto form a new political party in September 2021 called The People’s Alliance, which contested the 14 December 2022 general elections and won 21 seats in the 55-seat parliament.

With the ruling FijiFirst Party unable to win an outright majority, Mr Rabuka’s The People’s Alliance was catapulted to national leadership with the support of its coalition partners, the National Federation Party which won 5 seats and SODELPA’s 3 seats.

Mr Rabuka is married to Mrs Sulueti Tuiloma Rabuka, a retired school teacher. They have 2 daughters and 2 sons, 7 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.