Suva (IANS): Sitiveni Rabuka, a former military strongman who led two coups in 1987, was on Saturday elected as Prime Minister of Fiji’s new coalition government which will govern for the next four years.
According to the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation, the 74-year-old Rabuka, who is also the leader of the People’s Alliance (PA) party, received 28 votes during the first sitting of Parliament earlier in the day while the Fiji First party (FFP) leader and incumbent Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe “Frank” Bainimarama garnered 27 votes, reports Xinhua news agency.
Meanwhile, Tui Cakau Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu was elected the new Parliament Speaker.
In this year’s general elections, which were held on December 14, the FFP won 26 seats, the PA bagged 21 seats, its partner National Federation Party (NFP) secured five seats and the the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) captured three seats.
Under Fiji’s electoral system, a party can form a government if it wins 28 seats or more in the 55-member Parliament.
The FFP had been in power since 2014, but this time the party failed to secure a majority.
The PA and the NFP had already formed a pre-election coalition.
The SODELPA decided on Friday to partner with the PA and the NFP to form a coalition government, which now has 29 seats in parliament.
Rabuka had led two coups in 1987 as head of the military and then became Prime Minister in 1992 before losing the election in 1999.
This is the first time in 16 years that three parties have joined to form a coalition government to dislodge long-time Prime Minister Bainimarama.
The Pacific island nation, with a population of 900,000, had a history of military coups before constitutional reform in 2013 removed a race-based voting system that favoured Indigenous Fijians over a large Indian ethnic group.