Fiji elections: Polls close, now the wait begins

SOE Mohammed Saneem
Fiji Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem speaks to media

The polls have closed in Fiji, and citizens have exercised their right to determine which government will rule. While the final results may not be known for some days, it appears voter turnout has been somewhat disappointing at a little over 50%. An updated turnout figure will be released within the hour.

FijiFirst leader and incumbent Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama voted at Yat Sen School this morning, after a fire at the original polling venue, the Vatuwaqa Primary School earlier this week.

He was reluctant to talk to the large media contingent gathered to see him vote and answered “of course” when asked if he would respect the election result if it went against the government. He also said he was confident Fiji First would be returned to office.

People’s Alliance Party leader, Sitiveni Rabuka said he was confident, but that he didn’t think that the Prime Minister would respect the result if FijiFirst lost this election, and that Bainimarama may challenge the result in the court of disputed returns if he is not satisfied. However Rabuka continued, “I am hoping for a flood of votes in our favour so that … any attempt at going through that system or that course will be futile.”   

He said he believed the Prime Minister would also be feeling confident and made reference to electoral law amendments which have influenced the way parties have campaigned this year.

“I think he has been carried on the wave of 16 years’ rule. It is always very difficult to dislodge an incumbent government. They make the rules, we abide by them and any slip, will result in our being questioned, investigated, that’s why we are being overcautious. We’ve been very very cautious in the lead-up.”

Rabuka’s message for the PM? “We cannot live forever. We cannot rule forever. And succession, and even a successor who is from an opposition party, as far as he’s concerned, should be accepted as a normal process in a democratic system.”

National Federation Party confident

The leader of PAP’s Coalition partner, the National Federation Party’s Biman Prasad this morning said, “I’m absolutely confident, I think we are on our way to forming the next government.

“We have laid out our agenda very clearly with our partner PAP, and obviously, Mr Rabuka and I will be leading that government.”

He says the key areas they will focus on are the economy, health, assisting Fijians living in poverty and the increasing cost of living.

National Federation Party (NFP) candidate, Lenora Qereqeretabua says they are “quietly confident,” about the result.

She was up early this morning, training at Albert Park as usual, before voting at Samabula.

“I feel great, feeling very optimistic, quietly optimistic, quietly confident, from what we hear from people on the ground.

“You know, getting into a taxi, for example, everyone just wants to change, and what I’m grateful for is the support NFP has been getting everywhere we’ve gone,” she said.

Qereqeretabua said, “Despite the excitement, I’m very calm; otherwise, I wouldn’t have gotten up at four in the morning to come and train,”

She continued: “cost of living is the biggest worry, people just want to have food that is affordable, they want to be able to afford living in Fiji.”

If given the opportunity to form the new government, Qereqeretabua wants to look after the environment and health.

Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem at the National Results Centre this evening

Count begins tonight

Provisional counting of ballots at counting centres begins at 8pm this evening, with results provided to the central tally centre in Suva and then uploaded as provisional results in the Fiji Elections Office app.

Results will be updated throughout the night.

Then tomorrow morning those results will be flushed, and final results will begin to be entered into the system.

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