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Jubilant scenes in Suva tonight greeted Fiji’s kingmaker party Sodelpa as it announced it will form a coalition with the People’s Alliance-National Federation Party to form a new government, bringing an end to FijiFirst’s eight-year rein.

It also closes a chapter on 16 years of political dominance of the 2006 coup leader turned Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

The decision was made in a secret ballot by Sodelpa’s 30 member management board with 16 voting in favour of the PAP-NFP alliance and 14 voting in favour of FijiFirst.

The first sitting of Parliament is tomorrow when the new prime minister — expected to be former coup leader and ex-prime minister Sitiveni Rabuka — will be elected.

Biman Prasad (from left), Bill Gavoka and Sitiveni Rabuka
Party leaders of Fiji’s new coalition government – Professor Biman Prasad (from left, National Federation Party), Viliame Gavoka (Sodelpa) and Sitiveni Rabuka (People’s Alliance). Image: RNZ Pacific

Bainimarama has yet to concede the elections — RNZ Pacific has contacted his FijiFirst party for comments.

Sodelpa’s chief negotiator, Anare Jale said their decision to side with PAP-NFP had not been taken lightly and they had given full consideration to the offers from all parties.

“It has taken days to decide on the way forward for the party,” Jale said.

“Especially the choice of the partner for whom we are going to form a coalition with to form government.”

Sodelpa’s kingmaker position came about after a contentious national election count which saw PAP leader Sitiveni Rabuka calling into question the integrity of the electoral system.

But now in the driving seat, Rabuka said it was a past issue.

“We thank the Electoral Commission, although we [had] some difficulties with them in the beginning….But now let it roll over. I’m sure we can all turn our back on that and work together,” Rabuka said.

Since the election results were released on Sunday Sodelpa’s management board has been going back and forth between the negotiating teams for the two prospective coalition partnerships.

This came to a head this afternoon with back-to-back presentations from the two camps before the secret ballot was taken.

Rabuka to be prime minister
The new coalition has selected the PAP leader, Sitiveni Rabuka, to be its prime minister.

He will be elected during the first sitting of the new Parliament tomorrow.

This was confirmed by the National Federation Party leader, Professor Biman Prasad, shortly after Sodelpa’s management board announced its chosen coalition partner this afternoon in Suva.

“Official communication will be sent to his Excellency the President, confirming that the PAP-NFP-Sodelpa government is ready to lead under the new prime minister Sitiveni Rabuka,” Professor Prasad said.

The coalition leaders said they were pleased to be able to give the people of Fiji this early Christmas present — a strong and united coalition government.

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

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