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Voters in Fiji went to the polls Wednesday to decide which party would govern the archipelago against a backdrop of rising inflation and questions about democracy in the country, Reuters reported.
Wednesday’s race pits the FijiFirst party of Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama – a former coup leader – against the opposition People’s Alliance Party. The incumbent is in a tight race against another coup leader and one-time prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka, whose political group formed a coalition with Fiji’s oldest political party.
Results could come as late as Sunday, the Australian Associated Press reported. Shortly after polls closed an election results app showing the People’s Alliance Party leading in provisional results “went dark” for several hours, before returning online showing FijiFirst in the lead, prompting calls from opposition parties for the count to stop, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Meanwhile, voter turnout in the third democratic election since Bainimarama’s 2006 coup was less than 60 percent, according to observers, the lowest in a decade.
Despite leading a coup, the incumbent has a high international profile for climate change advocacy and has chaired the Pacific Islands Forum, the regional diplomatic bloc, as it sought this year to manage rising security tensions between the US and China.
Still, Rabuka expressed doubt Bainimarama would accept defeat, the newswire added.
Meanwhile, Fiji’s military commander told his soldiers to respect the outcome of the elections, saying that anything less would be an affront to democracy.
The Pacific nation has been marred by four coups since it gained independence in 1970.