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NZ Pacific

A Pacific media academic says Fiji is still not a fully-fledged democracy and is recovering from the impacts of the 2006 coup — the country’s fourth since gaining independence 52 years ago.

The University of the South Pacific’s head of journalism Associate Professor Shailendra Singh said Fiji’s transition from authoritarianism to greater democracy was an ongoing process.

Dr Singh said that was why it was important that everyone accepted the outcome of the 2022 general elections, which must be held before January 23 next year.

“The reason is simply that any stalemate or instability could be very damaging. Any instability will undo all those painstaking achievements we’ve made since 2006,” said Dr Singh, who is also a board member of Pacific Journalism Review and one of the founders of the Asia Pacific Media Network.

“There are also wider implications, given that Fiji is a major country in our region. So, any instability in Fiji is not good for the region as a whole.”

Nearly 690,000 Fijians have registered to cast their vote across 1468 polling stations when the much-anticipated general elections are held.

Polling date yet to be announced
While a date for the polls is yet to be announced, nine political parties are officially vying for the 55 parliamentary seats.

Dr Singh said the 2022 elections would be Fiji’s third election, under its fourth constitution, since gaining independence from Britain in 1970.

He said this was indicative of the kinds of political problems faced by the country.

“So, this election is really, really crucial. I mean all elections are important. This one is arguably more so than perhaps any other recent elections.”

Now, the thing is regardless of who wins the election, what is really most important for Fiji is a smooth transition. This is really crucial for the sake of continuity and stability,” Dr Singh said.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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