|Bainimarama takes oath as as Fiji’s PM|
Coup leader Voreqe Bainimarama was sworn in as Fiji’s new Prime Minister on Monday.
First general elections since 2006 in the South Pacific nation were held five days ago.
“I solemnly and sincerely promise to hold my office with honour, dignity and integrity,” the 60-year-old pledged, eight years after he toppled Fiji’s last democratically elected leader Laisenia Qarase in a bloodless coup.
The final count in the election gave Bainimarama’s Fiji First Party 59.2 per cent of the vote, equating to 32 seats in the new 50-seat parliament set up under a constitution introduced last year.
The Social Democratic Liberal Party was a distant second at 28.2 per cent (15 seats), with the National Federation Party next on 5.5 (three seats).
The election extended full voting rights for the first time to ethnic Indians, who make up about 40 per cent of the 900,000 population and enthusiastically backed Bainimarama’s move to put them on an equal footing with indigenous Fijians.
Tensions between the two races have been the underlying cause of four coups in the island nation since 1987. But Bainimarama promised yesterday, when the scale of his victory had become apparent, that he would govern “for the well-being of all Fijians”.
“This is a victory for all Fijians, this is when history will record that as a nation we have embraced a new future,” he told thousands of cheering supporters in Suva.
The election was conducted peacefully and, despite allegations from some opposition figures of irregularities, a multinational observer group has declared the poll “credible” and said it reflects the will of the Fijian people.