Fiji’s main opposition leader disputes vote count

Sydney, Australia, Dec 15 (EFE).- Fiji’s main opposition leader Sitiveni Rabuka said Thursday that he did not have faith in the vote count of the country’s general elections.

Rabuka, whose People’s Alliance Party is one of the favorites to win the elections held on Wednesday, made these remarks following a technical glitch in the app used by the Fijian Elections Office.

“Before the glitch we were actually ahead in the count. But when the system came back on there was a big change, not in our favor,” Rabuka said at a press conference in Suva.

On Wednesday night, the elections office suspended the provisional results following a glitch in the app used by the public to track them.

At that time, the People’s Alliance Party was leading, with 2,600 votes, compared to 667 for incumbent Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama’s FijiFirst Party, public broadcaster Radio New Zealand reported.

After the app was restored at around 2:30 am, the results showed the ruling party in the lead with 65,949 votes compared to 50,348 for the People’s Alliance Party, with 531 of the 2,071 polling stations counted, it added.

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.

On Thursday, Fiji’s elections supervisor, Mohammed Saneem, said at a press conference that the glitch was due to attempts to restart a failed data transfer, which could have caused a disproportionate number of votes to be attributed to some candidates.

The final election result will only be known within a few days.

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who 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 winner of the elections will face several challenges, including China’s growing influence in the region, the climate crisis and a 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


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