Fiji election: Sitiveni Rabuka leaves police custody as vote counting continues

Important points
  • Fiji People’s Alliance leader Sitiveni Rabuka was questioned by police.
  • He had written to the military commander asking for an intervention in the election.
  • Frank Bainimarama’s FijiFirst party leads the latest round of results with 40 percent of the vote.
The man, who was running to become Fiji’s next prime minister, was taken into custody and questioned by police after writing to the military commander asking him to intervene in the elections.
People’s Alliance leader Sitiveni Rabuka left the police station in Suva shortly after 10pm local time on Friday and said he had not been arrested or charged.
The general secretary of the party was also questioned.
Vice Chair Lynda Tabuya said the development had come as a shock but promised to keep moving forward.

She said the party followed legal procedures.

“We are not discouraged by this, we are standing firm,” she told reporters outside the police station ahead of Mr Rabuka’s release.
Ms Tabuya said the party had been told the questioning related to the letter to the army commander.
She said Methodist Reverend Ili Vunisuwai was also interrogated after he wrote a letter to the president and army commander raising concerns about the integrity of the election.
Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama’s FijiFirst party withdrew in the latest round of election results, taking more than 40 percent of the vote with half of all polling stations being counted as of Saturday morning.

The opposition People’s Alliance of former prime minister and putschist Sitiveni Rabuka now holds 36 percent.

The People’s Alliance vote fell steadily from over 50 percent in each count update on Friday, with FijiFirst falling from 22 percent.
The National Federation Party gets eight percent of the vote, the Social Democratic Liberal Party just under six. The other five political parties remain below the five percent threshold of the votes needed to qualify for a seat in the 55-member enlarged parliament.
Mr Bainimarama – who came to power after instigating a coup in 2006 – has a personal vote of 28 percent in Fiji’s only constituency, while Mr Rabuka sits at 15 percent.
A final settlement takes place on Sunday.

Despite leading the polls ahead of Friday’s last update, Mr Rabuka doubled down on claims of irregularities in election data and asked the Fijian public to report their concerns about the integrity of the elections.

Mr Rabuka also wanted the military to use its constitutional powers to oversee a fair ballot count after there were alleged voting irregularities.
He said it would not be a coup because the army would not run the government.
Maj. Gen. Jone Kalouniwai declined to be involved, saying the use of the military in the electoral process was unconstitutional and he continued to believe in the system.

The Multinational Observer Group says it has observed “no material irregularities or problems in the primary, absentee or Election Day voting.”

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