Sitiveni Rabuka has turn out to be Fiji’s twelfth prime minister, ending a tense political stalemate that had gripped the small Pacific island nation within the days following an undecisive election final result this month.
The Fijian Parliament within the capital Suva convened on Saturday to vote in Rabuka, who’s now holding the prime minister’s job for a second time. The 74-year-old mentioned he felt “humbled” as he made his manner out of parliament after successful the nomination over incumbent Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.
The 2-time coup chief and former prime minister, Rabuka — nonetheless referred to by his nickname “Rambo” — narrowly triumphed over Bainimarama by 28 votes to 27 in a secret poll, Parliamentary Speaker Naiqama Lalabalavu introduced.
Bainimarama later thanked his Fiji First get together and supporters, saying “that is democracy and that is my legacy”, including that he hoped to proceed in authorities as chief of the opposition.
Rabuka, the pinnacle of the Individuals’s Alliance Social gathering (PAP), received the nomination after forming a majority coalition with two different smaller events following final week’s shut and contentious election consequence. He locked within the coalition deal to kind a authorities on Friday afternoon, after efficiently wooing the kingmaker Social Democratic Liberal Social gathering (SODELPA).
SODELPA had earlier chosen Rabuka’s PAP over Bainimarama’s Fiji First, however that preliminary vote was dominated invalid by the nation’s election supervisor, and Bainimarama’s Fiji First refused to concede the election.
Rabuka is scheduled to be formally sworn in afterward Saturday at Authorities Home.
A refrain of automobiles honked in celebration as they drove previous the parliamentary constructing after the vote.
The European Union ambassador for the Pacific, Sujiro Seam, tweeted his congratulations to Rabuka shortly after the announcement.
The navy had been deployed on the streets of Suva as Rabuka and Bainimarama this week raced to cobble collectively a coalition authorities following the deadlocked normal election.
Citing unsubstantiated studies of ethnic violence, Bainimarama mentioned the navy was wanted to keep up “regulation and order”. However Rabuka — who served as prime minister between 1992 and 1999 — mentioned the federal government was “sowing worry and chaos” and “attempting to set the nation alight alongside racial traces”.
It had been a tense week in Fiji, the place democracy stays fragile. There have been 4 navy coups in Fiji over the previous 35 years, and each Rabuka and Bainimarama have held lead roles in earlier strikes to take away former Fijian leaders.
Rabuka instigated two coups in 1987, and Bainimarama seized energy by way of a 2006 putsch after which legitimised his authorities with outright election wins in 2014 and 2018.
Whereas not an outright autocrat, Bainimarama’s authorities had steadily used the authorized system to sideline opponents, silence critics and muzzle the media.
Rabuka — who represented his nation in rugby union and athletics — commanded two infantry battalions on peacekeeping duties in Lebanon and within the Sinai Desert, Egypt. He was awarded the French Légion d’honneur for bravery in saving a French officer throughout an assault on the UN headquarters in Lebanon in 1980.
He made his first mark in politics when he emerged from relative obscurity to stage his first navy coup in 1987, arguing that Indigenous Fijians had been shedding management of their nation to the descendants of ethnic Indians. He went on to instigate one other coup in the identical yr to depose the management he had simply put in. He later handed energy to an interim administration, however remained commander of the military and minister of residence affairs. Rabuka contested within the subsequent election in 1992 and was democratically elected as prime minister, serving till 1999.