Bainimarama becomes Fiji’s prime minister

2014-09-22 11:07
Fiji's military leader Voreqe Bainimarama. (William West, AFP)

Fiji's military leader Voreqe Bainimarama. (William West, AFP)

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Sydney - Voreqe Frank Bainimarama was sworn in as Fiji's prime minister on Monday, after his party won the island nation's first general election since he led a military coup in 2006.

Fiji First party garnered 59.2% of the vote and 32 of the 50 seats in parliament, election officials said.

The Social Democratic Liberal Party of Teimumu Kepa came in second, with 28.2% of the vote and 15 seats, while the Federation Party scored 5.5% and three seats.

Opinion polls had showed Fiji First favoured to win.

Bainimarama was sworn in by President Epeli Nailatikau in the capital Suva, government spokesperson Dan Gavidi said on Twitter.

"While I'm sure supporters of other political parties are disappointed, I want to say to them that this is how parliamentary democracy works", Bainimarama said, the Fiji Times Online reported.

"I will be your prime minister too, because I passionately believe in one nation, one Fiji and that everyone has a place in it, whoever you are, wherever you come from and whoever you voted for."

Ballot tampering

A little more than half of the country's 900 000 population was registered to vote in Wednesday's election seen as a chance to return the South Pacific island to civilian rule.

Bainimarama, a former navy officer, led coups in 2000 and in 2006, when he ousted the elected government amid tensions between indigenous Fijians and the descendants of Indian labourers who make up the rest of the population.

The 2006 coup saw Fiji lose its Commonwealth membership and diplomatic ties with New Zealand and Australia.

Election officials and international observers said the election appeared to be fair. Australia, the United States and the European Union commended authorities on the manner in which the process was conducted.

Five parties cited about 50 incidents, including ballot tampering and the illegal removal of ballot boxes.

The chairperson of the election commission, Chen Bunn Young, said it would investigate the concerns.

Bainimarama's supporters say the charismatic leader did much to develop Fiji. In promoting racial reconciliation, he earned praise from Indians but alienated many of his fellow indigenous Fijians.

Critics call him a dictator and say he did little more than line his own pockets and those of his cronies. They claimed he brought changes to the constitution and electoral laws to avoid prosecution for treason and to stay in power.

Read more on:    eu  |  fiji

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