Fiji has finally reached the other side of the long and winding road that was the 2022 general election and can enjoy the festive season with a new leader decided.
Sitiveni Rabuka is Fiji’s first new leader in 16 years, but the work has only just begun for his three-party coalition government.
Rabuka was elected with 28 votes to 27.
“It was a very close margin,” Social Democratic Liberal Party (Sodelpa) youth forum president Ben Daveta said.
From the polls to Parliament, every decision was balanced on a knife’s edge.
Rabuka inherits a divided nation
First, no party gained an outright majority to rule.
Then it took the king-makers Sodelpa two split-votes to choose a coalition partner — and even in the final secret ballot to elect a prime minister, someone in the opposition ranks voted for the other side.
It has been a frantic time, Daveta said.
“Well, first of all, I’ve really been trying to get my breath for the last few minutes and it was nerve-wracking.
“Democracy came through, their prayers came through.”
Prominent Sodelpa member and democracy advocate Pita Waqavonovono said this is the way forward.
He expressed a sense of excitement to “make Fiji better again”.
“It is time for us to have a real democracy and FijiFirst has shown an unwillingness to govern democratically,” Waqavonovono said.
In its first 100 days Rabuka’s government must find a way to unite Fijians and tackle the challenges of a nation emerging from the pandemic.
Congratulations sent to Fiji
Congratulatory messages continue to pour in for Rabuka.
Congratulations to the new PM, SLR, of Fiji and the Coalition. Vinaka vakalevu to the outgoing government of former PM , FVB and Fiji First for your service to our region. Best wishes to the people of Fiji as they witnessed the peaceful transfer of powers, a democratic process.
— Albon Ishoda (@alishoda) December 24, 2022
Congratulations to Hon. Sitiveni Rabuka @slrabuka on his assumption of office as Prime Minister of Fiji. We believe our bilateral relations will be further strengthened to better benefit our two countries and peoples.@FijianGovt pic.twitter.com/AIeRkHrqyj
— Chinese Embassy in Fiji (@ChineseEmb_FJ) December 24, 2022
The Embassy of France congratulates @FijianGovt on the conduct of the General Elections. Best wishes to the new Prime Minister Honorable @slrabuka, @alliancefj @nfpfiji @SODELPAHQFiji and all elected Members of Parliament in their high offices.
— France in Fiji (@ambafrancefj) December 24, 2022
Pacific Islands Forum Secretary-General Henry Puna congratulated Sitiveni Rabuka on his appointment as Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji.
“Fiji has come through a general election and its subsequent parliamentary milestone and can now fully enjoy the full measure of this festive season,” Puna said.
Puna also acknowledged former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama for his leadership as the Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF).
Puna thanked Fiji for upholding the values of peace and goodwill as Pacific leaders together work towards a productive and successful 2023.
Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz