Laisenia Qarase Biography

(6th Prime Minister of Fiji)

Birthday: February 4, 1941 (Aquarius)

Born In: Vanua Balavu, Colony of Fiji

Laisenia Qarase was the former Prime Minister of Fiji. The young lad took advantage of his strict religious upbringing to focus on his education, successfully graduating from a prestigious university in a foreign country. Returning to his homeland, Qarase soon began a stellar career in the banking industry. After a series of promotions to head both commercial and government financial institutions, he was appointed to the Senate. After a short stint in the senate, Qarase assumed the reins of power briefly following a destabilizing coup attempt. A year later, this leader marshaled his political forces and his party swept the democratic elections, launching him into the position of the Prime Minister. During his time in power, this politician emphasized greater representation and leadership for his own ethnic group while simultaneously courting cordial relations with foreign countries amenable to his liberalized economic policies. After a successful parliamentary re-election, Qarase's government was overthrown in a military coup. He was then continually harassed by his opponents and was ultimately convicted on corruption charges that many independent observers classify as political persecution. 

Quick Facts

Died At Age: 79


Spouse/Ex-: Leba Qarase

Born Country: Fiji

Prime Ministers Political Leaders

political ideology: United Fiji Party (Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua)

Died on: April 21, 2020

place of death: Suva, Fiji

Ideology: Socialists

Notable Alumni: University Of Auckland

More Facts

education: University Of Auckland

Childhood & Early Life
Laisenia Qarase was born February 4, 1941 on Vanua Balava Island in the Lau archipelago of Fiji. His father was Josateki Mate, a member of the local Tota clan. He attended ‘Suva Grammar School’ in Suva, Fiji.
In 1959, Qarase enrolled at the ‘University of Auckland’ in New Zealand. He pursued a course of studies in Commerce.
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After graduating, Qarase returned to Fiji to become a private sector banker.

In 1983, he became the managing director of ‘Fiji Development Bank’. He held 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 held for four years.

In 1998, Laisenia Qarase 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 the interim Prime Minister after a 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.
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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 continued to perform the duties of an official opposition politician.

Major Works

Laisenia Qarase was the Prime Minister of Fiji from March 16, 2001 to December 4, 2006. Though his second term in office was cut short as a result of an ensuing political turmoil, the political leader is known for his policies aimed at improving the economic conditions in the nation.

Awards & Achievements
On October 30, 2005, Qarase was awarded the ‘Star of Melanesia’ by the head of the government of Papua New Guinea for his promotion of the interests of Melanesian people and commerce throughout the greater Pacific.

Personal Life, Legacy & Death

Laisenia Qarase was married to Leba Qarase. Together they had five children. 

Qarase was a devoutly religious Christian his entire life. He was friends with American evangelist Benny Hinn. Hinn's visit in 2005 to Fiji reportedly drew in 370,000 spectators. Qarase had used his fundamentalist religious views to explain his strong prejudices against homosexuality.


Laisenia Qarase died on April 21, 2020, after a short illness. He was 79.


Despite being overthrown in a coup and harassed by his political opponents, this political leader continued to live in Fiji till the time of his death.

See the events in life of Laisenia Qarase in Chronological Order

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