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Pacific News Minute: Coalition government in the works for Fiji

Fiji Election
Bebeto Matthews
/
AP
In this Sept. 26, 2018, file photo, Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama address a meeting to promote the elimination of nuclear weapons, during the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters.

Vote counting finished in Fiji's general election over the weekend, but today there is still no clear winner.

Various political parties are now negotiating to form a coalition government.

Two former coup leaders ran against each other in this year’s election.

Sitiveni Rabuka led a coup back in 1987 and later served as an elected prime minister in the 1990s. He was the main challenger to Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who has held power for the past 16 years.

Bainimarama first seized the top job by force in 2006. He remade himself into a democratic leader by introducing a new constitution and won elections in 2014 and in 2018.

Rabuka and his allies won about 45% of the combined vote. Meanwhile, Bainimarama's party won about 43%.

The Associated Press reports both sides are now seeking to form a coalition with Fiji’s Social Democrat Liberal Party. The party’s priorities include Indigenous affairs and education.

Before this year’s election, Fijian authorities enlisted an extra 1,500 police officers to ensure voting went smoothly.

Officials from the Multinational Observer Group concluded that Fijian voters were able to exercise their right to vote freely.

The past few years have been difficult for many people in the country of just under one million people. Tourism disappeared when COVID-19 hit and the economy suffered. The World Bank estimates the nation’s poverty rate is about 24%.

Derrick Malama is the local anchor of Morning Edition.
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