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My fellow Fijians.

As we welcome our Christmas celebrations, we do so with tremendous sadness, as we mourn the passing of a true Fijian patriot, Dr Jiko Luveni.

In my time with Dr Luveni, I knew her as a Fijian who held a deep and unshakable love for her country and her people. I admired her as a woman of exemplary character, steady wisdom and effortless grace. I appreciated her as a constant source of inspiration for countless Fijian women and girls across the country. Above all else, I counted her as dear friend, and she will be deeply missed.

Her life of service has forever cemented Dr Luveni's legacy as a giant of Fijian history. The first woman Speaker of our Parliament, she forever changed the status quo of Fijian politics. Her achievement brought a new perspective to our political life and new expectations for gender equity in our society. Through her service, she led us all through the most important years of our budding parliamentary democracy. She remained always as a reasoned and impartial voice of understanding; a guiding light that illuminated truth amidst even the most heated of political debates.

In His life and teachings, Jesus imparted upon us the boundless power and beauty of compassion. He professed to us the timeless truth that God's love is unending and touches us all. And he commanded that we abide by His example, that we give love to all people, even those who may be different from ourselves. I believe Dr Luveni strived to live up to that noble and sacred calling. Owed to her love of country, she dedicated herself to the service of her fellow Fijians, and we all owe her an unpayable debt of gratitude.

This Christmas, I ask that we honour the life and legacy of Dr Luveni by striving to love each other in the same manner that Christ loves us all; love your families, love your friends, love your neighbours, love your countrymen and women, and demonstrate that love with action: give your time and charity to spread love to those who need it most, especially those who are most vulnerable in our society. I too ask that all Fijians join me and my family in prayer for Dr Luveni's family during this incredibly difficult time.

I would also like to wish a very happy Christmas to those Fijian troops who are returning home from their tour of duty in Lebanon and the Golan Heights to spend the holiday here with their loved ones in Fiji, we can ask for no better gift. And to those spending Christmas away from home in the service of their nation, as volunteers, police or as UN Peacekeepers, I offer my greatest gratitude for your sacrifice; no matter how far from Fiji, you are in our thoughts and prayers.

May the joy and peace of the festive season be with every Fijian. My wife, Mary, joins me in wishing you all a very happy Christmas. 

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