Pacific Scoop

Live blog – 6pm: Bainimarama holds big lead in Fiji election – rivals protest

Livestreaming with Republika editor Ricardo Morris and Pacific Scoop’s Mads Anneberg.

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Ricardo Morris, Mads Anneberg, Alistar Kata and Biutoka Kacimaiwai in Suva, and Thomas Carnegie in Auckland

Coup leader Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama appeared today to be headed for a decisive democratic mandate in the Fiji general election.

pacificfijielections logo 200wideHis Fiji First party was polling way ahead of the opposition Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) at 6am this morning when counting was suspended until 4pm today.

With 1244 of the 2025 polling stations tallied by the Fijian Elections Centre, Bainimarama’s party Fiji First with a policy of “Fiji for all” had 233,094 votes, or 60.2 percent of the total vote – more than double the indigenous party SODELPA (103,463 and 26.7 percent), which represents the political group ousted in the 2006 military coup.

But the five major opposition parties signed a joint statement late today outlining three major issues with the counting of votes. The statement called for the electoral commission to suspend the count until the issues are dealt with.

Supervisor of Elections Mohammad Saneem said counting would continue despite this request.

FijiVillage reported that on the basis of the standings after 387,400 votes had been counted, the make-up of the new Fiji Parliament would be:

Fiji First = 33 seats
SODELPA = 14 seats
NFP = 3 seats
Other parties have not yet reached the 5 percent threshold .

According to the latest provisional tally, the leading five candidates were: Voreqe Bainimarama (Fijji First), Ro Teimumu Kepa (SODELPA), Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum (Fiji First), Vane Maisavuna Baleiloa Koroi (SODELPA) and Biman Chand Prasad (National Federation Party).

fiji elections board 1244stations 180914 425wide

apj signatures twitter-biu kacimaiwai 250wide

Signatures on the opposition protest letter today. Image: Biu Kacimaiwai/Twitter

Republika editor Ricardo Morris says:

What do the results mean for Fiji? A clear majority of the population have embraced Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s vision and ideals for Fiji, rejecting discrimination and the “politics of the past” to give him and his party a democratic mandate after nearly eight years of military-led rule.

Bainimarama’s restructuring of the psyche of Fijian society has been given the stamp of approval by Fiji’s voters.

Now he will operate within the mechanisms of a parliamentary system that he and his right-hand man Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum have crafted for Fiji.

The results show Fiji First way ahead of its main rival SODELPA, with a landslide towards Bainimarama.

SODELPA leader Ro Teimumu Kepa will most likely be the leader of the opposition.

“It’s a great day for Fiji,” said People’s Democratic Party president Lynda Tabuya earlier yesterday, after she cast her vote at the polling station at Tamavua Village Hall.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said an emotional Tabuya, who is also contesting the elections.

“I think we should all celebrate this day, no matter what the outcome. And I’m just really grateful for a beautiful morning, and for being able to finally exercise my right to vote.”

After visiting several polling stations in the Suva and Nasinu areas, Tabuya described the overall mood of polling day as one of seriousness – a stark difference from Fiji’s past general elections.

She said it was more of a sombre mood, “like one of silent solidarity”.

“Rather than one of lots of noise and lots of laughter, I think people are taking this day very seriously,” said the former University of the South Pacific law lecturer.