For the first time, a Seventh-day Adventist has been nominated president of the south pacific nation of Fiji.
Major General Jioji Konousi Konrote, better known as George Konrote, has most recently been serving as Minister for Employment, Labour Relations and Productivity but will need to leave this position in order to take up the presidency, a mostly ceremonial role analogous to that of governor-general in other Commonwealth countries.
In an official announcement of the nomination, Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama described Major General Konrote as “a paragon of loyalty, courage and devotion to duty in his performance as a military commander, honesty and dedication as a senior civil servant and minister, and tact and perseverance as a diplomat."
President-elect Konrote’s nomination is historic not just because of his Adventist faith but also because of his minority Rotuman ethnicity and his lack of chiefly ancestry. His nomination is according to Fiji’s 2013 constitution, which, somewhat controversially, dispenses with the Council of Chiefs and opens the position of president up to non-chiefs.
Given Fiji’s delicate political situation, Adventist Church leaders have been cautious in their public response. Major General Konrote is a church elder and a respected member of the Rotuman congregation in Suva.
Major General Konrote’s appointment is a bit of a surprise but not entirely unexpected—right now there are Adventists in many key government positions—the Seventh-day Adventist Church is widely respected in Fiji.
President-elect Konrote is the only Fijian to be appointed a Force Commander of the United Nations interim force in Lebanon and a UN Assistant Secretary General. He has served as the Fijian High Commissioner to Australia and Ambassador Plenipotentiary to Singapore. In 2006, he was elected as a member of Parliament and has served as a local member and government Minister since that time.
The presidential inauguration ceremony will be held in early November.