Photo/ Cam Slater, Whaleoil Media
The election is finally over in Fiji and Fiji First won 32 out of 50 seats, with nearly 60% of the vote.
Frank Bainimarama has been sworn in.
Fiji’s former military ruler was sworn in as prime minister after winning 60 percent of the vote in the South Pacific nation’s first elections since he seized power eight years ago.
Fiji, a tropical archipelago about 3,200 km (2,000 miles) east of Australia, has suffered four coups since 1987, the latest in 2006 led by former army chief Voreqe “Frank” Bainimarama, whose Fiji First Party will hold a wide majority 32 of the 50 seats in the new parliament.
Wednesday’s election was broadly praised by a 92-member international observer group, despite opposition accusations of fraud and allegations the regime had used its control of state media to boost Bainimarama’s campaign and ignore opponents.
“I will serve the country as the prime minister of all Fijians,” Bainimarama told Reuters following a swearing-in ceremony at Government House in the capital, Suva.
The election has been closely watched by neighbours Australia and New Zealand, the region’s economic and diplomatic power houses, eager to welcome the country back to the fold of normal relations after eight years of isolation.
Some diplomats I spoke to in Fiji were hoping there would be a thaw in relations with NZ.
That is unlikely.
Fijians are very upset over the way they have been treated by the NZ and Australian governments.
Fiji has made new friends now….ones we let in the door with our intransigence.
The country now has emphatically rejected the racism of the past, and has embarked on a new beginning.