The Fiji Labour Party regrets the death of the former President and Tui Vuda Ratu Josefa Iloilovatu Uluivuda, CF, MBE, MSD, KStJ who passed away on Sunday.
Ratu Josefa, 90, had a long and illustrious career first as a primary school teacher and later as an administrator in the civil service. His political career began with his election to the House of Representatives in 1977 as the Alliance MP for Vanua Levu. He did not seek re-election in 1982 but served briefly as Minister for Forests in the pre-election Caretaker Government in 1992. In June 1992, he was appointed to the Senate. From June 1996 he served as President of the Senate. He was appointed Fiji’s Vice President in January 1999.
Ratu Josefa assumed the office of the President of Fiji on 29 May 2000 in the aftermath of the terrorist takeover of Parliament on 19 May. He was later confirmed in that post by the Great Council of Chiefs on 13 July 2000, and remained as Head of State for the next 9 years until his retirement at the end of July 2009.
Ratu Josefa’s term as President has been marked by some highly controversial decisions. However, it must be remembered that he served during extremely difficult times and was constantly under pressure from various political groups, all pulling in different directions.
Against this backdrop, it is a credit to his tenacity and sagacity that he remained in office as long as he did, balancing the interests of the nation against the pressures on him.
Paying personal tribute to the former President, Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry said, “As an individual, Ratu Josefa was an extremely affable and pleasant person. He was a simple man who was forced by circumstances into the complicated and duplicitous world of Fiji politics – a task that he handled with some skill.”
The Fiji Labour Party extends deepest sympathies to Adi Salaseini and the children, and the people of Vuda on their bereavement.