After graduating, Qarase returned to Fiji to become a private sector banker.
In 1983, he became the managing director of ‘Fiji Development Bank’. He would hold this position for the next 15 years.
From 1992 to 1995, he was the director of a government investment firm named 'Fijian Holdings'. While director, he created a nine-point plan to extend government assistance to ethnic Fijians.
In 1994, he was appointed to be the chairman of ‘Fiji Television, a position he would hold for four years.
In 1998, the investment banker was hired to lead the privately owned ‘Fiji Merchant Bank’.
His political career got a kick start in 1999 when the country's Great Council of Chiefs appointed him to the Senate.
In 2000, he was appointed interim Prime Minister after an attempted coup attempt destabilized the government.
On March 16, 2001, Qarase became the Prime Minister of Fiji. He immediately formed the ‘Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL) Party’, which consolidated many other political factions.
On July 18, 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that Laisenia’s exclusion of a rival political group from his cabinet was unconstitutional. Nearly a year later, the Supreme Court mandated that the Prime Minister award 14 out of 30 cabinet posts to the rival party.
Continue Reading Below
On April 13, 2005, Qarase vigorously defended his government's incarceration of two Australian tourists for committing homosexual acts. The crackdown led to widespread global condemnation.
He addressed a prestigious conference on May 13, 2005, saying that poverty was the greatest challenge for development banks. The Prime Minister then severely criticized income imbalances.
On August 29, 2005, he told a meeting of the ‘Commonwealth Parliamentary Association’ that western style democracy was an "alien concept" for his people and that some aspects of it clashed with traditions in Fiji. He then went on to extol the virtues of noble birth.
During the May 6, 2006, Qarase's SDL party narrowly won the elections, allowing him to remain in the position of Prime Minister. On December 4 of the same year, he was ousted in a military coup led by Voreqe "Frank" Bainimarama. No democratic elections have been since held in the country.
In 2005, numerous allegations of corruption were made against the former prime minister. Five years later, he was put on trial.
In 2007, he sued the government for the coup. As a result, martial law was lifted in the country.
On August 3, 2012, Qarase was found guilty of abuse of office and sentenced to one year in prison. He was released eight months later. He continues to perform the duties of an official opposition politician.