Thursday, 12 November 2015

Ratu Epeli's Farewell Speech

President of the Republic of Fiji
Coronation Ground                                                                                                                                                              Wednesday 11th November,  2015
STATE HOUSE                                                                                                                                                                   2.30p.m.

Honourable Ministers
Your Excellencies the Ambassadors and High Commissioners
Members of Parliament
Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen

Good afternoon to you all, ni sa bula vinaka, assalam alaykum, namaste

Thank you for your very generous statement, and for the state’s gifts.   I also gratefully thank the Tui Namosi and the chiefs and warriors of the Vanua o Nabukebuke for the elaborate traditional ceremonies they have accorded me. I am deeply touched.  I wish to convey to the Government and the people of Fiji, my deepest gratitude for the opportunity given to me to serve the nation as President for the past six years and I depart much richer in spirit and experience.

I leave the Office of the President today confident that Fiji is steadfastly on its way to becoming one of the world’s great democracies. I reiterate that it has been a great honour being part of this generation that has seen our nation transformed and set firmly on the path to becoming a modern nation state.  I have especially enjoyed interacting with you all my fellow citizens across the entire spectrum of society under varying circumstances. And I particularly value my many encounters with our young people.

As a Nation, we have embraced a Constitution that provides the foundation for equality, unity and lasting peace and prosperity. We have revived our economy. We continue to re-position ourselves to meet the challenges of an increasingly globalized world. And we have returned the country to parliamentary democracy. But having a parliamentary democracy in itself is not the end of the journey.  We can only continue to be successful through understanding and implementing the true spirit of unity enshrined in our constitution.

So, I am extremely pleased to leave office knowing that our young people’s access to all levels of education is guaranteed and being facilitated. It is through education, wisdom, and the willingness of the heart to understand and appreciate the essence of our Constitution that our people will be equipped to take our nation to the next level.

As I leave office, I wish to convey my sincere personal gratitude - and that of my family - to all Fijians for your unwavering support for the new direction our nation has taken.  I thank the Government for its decisive approach to rebuilding our nation.

As the Commander-in-Chief of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, I acknowledge the invaluable service and sacrifice of all past and present personnel in the disciplined forces including the Military, Police, and Corrections Services. I also acknowledge the noble services of our medical and teaching personnel overseas who, like the disciplined forces, continue to be great ambassadors for Fiji.

On the home front, I acknowledge the role of the business community, civil society and all those in the formal and informal sectors. I particularly acknowledge the work of the civil service, and as well as most importantly the role of all the religious organizations in Fiji for their teachings and guidance.

I do not intend to retire permanently from serving the nation after today. I am committed to continuing my advocacy on HIV/AIDS and to continue my close contact with the national, regional and international humanitarian organizations and other just causes because I firmly believe that we must all work together to save and improve the lives of all our citizens and our neighbours, irrespective of their personal circumstances.

Finally, I reiterate my appeal for greater unity and for all Fijians both here and abroad to give your fullest support to the incoming President, Major-General Jioji Konrote. I am most honoured to pass on the mantle of Head of State to a very distinguished and exceptional person.

Thank you, vinaka vakalevu, sukria, bahoot dhanyavaad.

May God bless you all.  May God bless Fiji.

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