As a soldier Brigadier-General Ratu Epeli Nailatikau CF, LVO, OBE, MSD, KStJ, was head of the Fiji Military until he was deposed by Rabuka in the 1997 Coup. He was nominated as head of Government following the 2000 Speight Coup but stepped aside to allow Laisenia Qarese to become PM. He served as Speaker of the then Lower House from 2001 to 2006.
Following the 2006 Bainimarama Coup he was successively appointed to several ministries (Foreign Affairs, External Trade, Provincial Development, Multi-Ethnic Affairs, Indigenous Affairs). From 2009 to 2015 he was Vice-President, Acting President and then President on the retirement of Josefa Iloilo until he was replaced by Jioji Konrote. He was UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for the Pacific.
Ratu Epeli is highly respected by people of all races and walks of life.
He is a direct descendant of Ratu Seru Epensia Cakobau who ceded Fiji to Britain in 1871, and King George Tupou II of Tonga.