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Cheers for Fiji’s ‘new Prime Minister’ but parliament’s swearing-in ceremony delayed | Political News


Fiji’s police force appealed for calm and urged ‘all Fijians to respect the political process’ amid the power transition.

Fiji is expecting a new leader to take office for the first time in 16 years after the recent national election led to the trilateral joining in the formation of a coalition government to oust longtime Fijian prime minister Frank Bainimarama.

The Social Democratic Liberal Party, which holds three seats and became a power broker after a national election that sent parliament hanging, announced on Tuesday that it had decided to form a coalition with the Human Rights Coalition. people of Sitiveni Rabuka and also the National League Party.

The coalition formation came after days of deliberation and presented the opponents of incumbent prime minister Bainimarama’s Fiji First party and Rabuka’s People’s Coalition party to break the deadlock.

Broadcaster FBC said the new coalition government would hold 29 seats in parliament, and that Bainimarama’s party, who took power through a 2006 coup and later legitimized its government with won the election outright in 2014 and 2018 – there will be 26 seats.

Fijians took to the streets of the capital Suva to celebrate on Tuesday nightcheering on the “new Prime Minister” and setting off firecrackers.

But the Fijian parliament postponed its first session on Wednesday, where it was expected that Rabuka would be sworn in as prime minister. The constitution requires lawmakers to elect a prime minister from parliament if no party wins more than 50% of the required seats.

The Fiji parliamentary secretariat confirmed to Reuters in an email that parliament is not in session as Fijian President Williame Katonivere has yet to issue a statement holding the session.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Fijian police force called for calm and urged “all Fijians to respect the political process”.

The Pacific island nation, with a population of 900,000, had a history of military coups before constitutional reform in 2013 eliminated the race-based voting system in favor of indigenous Fijians over one group. Indian ethnic group.

While New Zealand’s foreign minister congratulated Rabuka on the emerging victory – even before Bainimarama formally gave in – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern offered a more measured response, saying Auckland would “wait” for the election. precipitate.

“I understand that there are some more things that the system (Fijia politics) will continue to go through,” Ms. Ardern told reporters.

“Let the process take its course,” she says. “I am confident in Fiji’s ability to move forward with the remaining stages of this process and am ready to acknowledge their new leader.”

Bainimarama has not spoken in public since voting in the election last Wednesday. Although he previously promised to respect the election results, Fiji has suffered four coups in the past 35 years, so Fijians are anxiously awaiting Bainimarama’s response.

This 68-year-old has dominated Fijian politics for almost two decades and his defeat was greeted with celebrations in the streets of Suva. While not an outright dictator, his government regularly uses the legal system to marginalize dissidents, silence critics, and silence the media.

Rabuka himself led two coups in 1987 as head of the army and later became prime minister of Fiji before being deposed in the 1999 election.

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