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Election deadlock in Fiji after all votes are counted: voting monitor

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama and his political rival Sitiveni Rabuka are expected to win 26 seats each in parliament.

The final results show that Fiji’s general election is deadlocked, with neither incumbent Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama nor his political rival Sitiveni Rabuka running for a majority of seats in parliament.

Bainimarama’s Fiji First party and a coalition led by his rival Rabuka are expected to win 26 seats each in the 55-seat parliament, according to a Fiji Electoral Office tally posted online on Sunday.

The tied result caps a tumultuous election campaign marked by accusations of fraud and calls for military intervention.

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The drama unfolded when opposition leader and two-time coup leader Rabuka claimed the vote counting process was “clouded in secrecy.” He was later questioned by the police after appealing to the military to intervene.

Fiji’s military chief said on Friday that his forces would not intervene. International election observers also said on Friday that they had seen no significant irregularities in the voting, adding that an initial anomaly with an app displaying the results had been corrected.

The government will now be formed through what could be a protracted negotiation process, with Rabuka and Bainimarama, who seized power in a 2006 coup and then legitimized his government with outright electoral victories in 2014 and 2018, already courting to the social democratic party. , which occupies three seats and now the balance of power.

Election Commission officials prepare to open the ballot box for counting during Fiji's general election in the capital city Suva on December 14.
Election Commission officials prepare to open the ballot box for counting during Fiji’s general election in the capital Suva on December 14, 2022. [Saeed Khan/AFP]

The Social Democrats are led by the deeply religious Viliame Gavoka, a former president of the Fiji Rugby Union who had fallen out with both Bainimarama and Rabuka.

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Fiji is a small country of just 900,000 people, but the result has regional significance. Bainimarama has reached out to China, while Rabuka and Gavoka have suggested loosening ties with Beijing.

The Social Democrats earlier this week joined a coalition of five other political parties calling for the vote count to be halted and immediately investigated.

The Rabuka People’s Alliance wrote last week to the Commander of the Fiji Military Forces, Ro Jone Kalouniwai, expressing concern about the electoral process.

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In response, Kalouniwai told television station FBC News on Friday that the military would trust the electoral process and not get involved.

The co-chair of a Multinational Observer Group, Australian politician Rebekha Sharkie, told reporters in Suva on Friday that the count was being carried out “in a systematic, methodical and transparent manner”.

Technical problems with the app used by the public to track provisional results had fueled mistrust among opposition parties when it showed a Popular Alliance Party candidate leading before it went offline. When he came back online it showed that Fiji First were ahead.

The electoral office said that errors had been made while transferring data to the app and that it was not used to count votes.

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