Fiji’s Parliament adjourns the session to read the Prime Minister

Fiji’s Parliament adjourns the session to read the Prime Minister

Popular Alliance leader Sitiveni Rabuka is set to become prime minister after three parties signed a coalition deal on Tuesday after a sluggish election. The deal would expel Frank Bainimarama, the president of Fiji First, who has ruled Fiji since a 2006 coup.

The constitution requires parliamentarians to transfer the prime minister to parliament if no party wins more than 50% of the seats.

The Fiji Parliament Secretariat confirmed to Reuters in an email that Parliament will not convene on Wednesday because Fijian President William Katunivir has yet to make an announcement.

The Liberal Social Democratic Party (SUDILBA), which holds three seats in parliament without a majority, signed a coalition agreement on Tuesday with the Rabuka People’s Alliance and the National Union Party.

SODELPA’s decision was taken after a close vote that saw 16 of its board members endorse the deal, while 14 members of Bainimarama Fiji First endorsed it.

SODELPA Secretary General Lenaitasi Duru resigned over the result and wrote to the Fiji Parliament and Mr Katonivere asking for a postponement of Parliament’s reinstatement, saying SODELPA’s decision was “null and void”, according to FBC TV.

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

“We are concerned by the number of reports of stoning incidents received last night targeting the homes and businesses of Indian Fijians,” Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Keleho said in the statement.

This Pacific island nation of 900,000 had a history of military coups before a constitutional reform was introduced in 2013 to remove an ethnicity-based voting system that favored indigenous Fijians over a sizable group of Indian ethnicity.

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Bainimarama won democratic elections in 2014 and 2018 with the support of the Indian community, but has faced criticism over his government’s punitive media laws and pressure on the judiciary, and has not commented publicly since last week’s vote.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Wednesday morning that New Zealand had not yet congratulated Mr. Rabuka as it was waiting for the “dust to settle and the formalities to be done”.

“I am confident in Fiji’s ability to lead the remaining stages of this process and I am ready to get to know their new leader,” she said.

In a tense election, a call from Rabuka for the military to intervene last week while votes were being counted was rejected. Police questioned Rabuka on Friday night and released her without charge.

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