Singapore, Dec 18 (EFE).- Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has lost his parliamentary majority, the final results of the recently held general elections in the country showed Sunday.
Bainimarama’s FijiFirst Party and opposition leader Sitiveni Rabuka’s People’s Alliance Party are tied, with both winning 26 of the 55 seats in the parliament, according to the Fijian Elections Office.
With no party having secured a parliamentary majority, a period of negotiation begins, in which both parties are expected to court the Social Democratic Party, whose three seats would allow them to form a government.
The results come after a contentious vote count due to the suspension of provisional results by the Fijian Elections Office on the night of the elections on Dec. 14 following a glitch in the app used by the public to track them.
At that time, Rabuka’s party was leading. After the app was restored, the results showed the ruling party in the lead, prompting the opposition leader to dispute the vote count.
Rabuka, who instigated two military coups in 1987 and was later elected the country’s prime minister (1992-1999), said that he would write to the election supervisor, the army commander and president about the matter.
“If we have to invoke certain aspects of the constitution, we will do that,” he said, without elaborating further.
International observers that monitored the elections said on Friday that they didn’t observe any “irregularities” during the electoral process.
The process of negotiations between the parties sparks uncertainty in a country that has suffered four coups in the past 35 years.
Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who also came to power through a military coup in 2006, won the elections in 2014 and 2018 with around 46 percent of the votes compared to the opposition’s 33 percent.
The developments in Fiji have implications beyond its borders.
While Bainimarama is seen as close to China, Rabuka has shown signs of wanting to distance himself from Beijing, at a time when the world’s second largest economy is trying to sign a contentious multilateral security agreement with the region.
The United States has stepped up its diplomacy in the region and Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Fiji in February, the first visit to the island by the top US diplomat in 36 years.
The country’s next leader will also face other challenges, including high inflation and decline in tourism as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as ethnic rivalries in the country.
Fiji, with a population of more that 900,000, adopted a new constitution in 2013, which was done without public consultation.
The country faces huge tensions between the Melanesian community and Indo-Fijians following its independence from the United Kingdom in 1970. EFE