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Fiji: the return of "Rambo" Rabuka as prime minister


Nicknamed “Rambo”, opposition leader Sitiveni Rabuka was confirmed as Prime Minister of Fiji on Saturday, after accusing the...

Nicknamed "Rambo", opposition leader Sitiveni Rabuka was confirmed as Prime Minister of Fiji on Saturday after accusing the outgoing government of fueling "

fear and chaos

" to frustrate his return to power.

The 74-year-old former army strongman defeated incumbent Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama by 28 votes to 27 in a secret ballot in parliament, House Speaker Naiqama Lalabalavu said.

The former prime minister, twice putschist thus replaces Frank Bainimarama, who overthrew the government during a military coup in 2006.

Upon leaving parliament before being formally sworn in by the president, Sitiveni Rabuka said he felt "


" to be Fiji's next prime minister.

As for the incumbent, Frank Bainimarama left Parliament smiling, seeming to accept his defeat, declaring to journalists "

It's democracy


A chorus of cars sounded in celebration outside the parliament building in the capital, Suva.

Shortly after the result of the vote, the European Union Ambassador for the Pacific, Sujiro Seam sent his congratulations to Sitiveni Rabuka on Twitter.

"Fear and Chaos"

Fiji is one of the most populous and prosperous Pacific island nations.

The country moved closer to China during the reign of Bainimarama.

His successor has hinted he will instead return to his traditional allies and neighbors Australia and New Zealand.

The army had been deployed in the streets of Suva, following blocked general elections.

Read alsoLegislative in Fiji: no clear majority, all votes counted

Citing unconfirmed reports of ethnic violence, Frank Bainimarama said the army was needed to maintain "

law and order


But Sitiveni Rabuka had judged that the outgoing government "

sowed fear and chaos

" and "

tried to inflame the nation according to racial criteria


Fiji, a state of more than 300 islands in the Pacific, has experienced bouts of infighting in the past.

Many Fijians fear that the outgoing government's allegations of ethnic violence and the deployment of the army could be used as a pretext for a "

creeping coup

" aimed at keeping Sitiveni Rabuka in opposition.

Under the Fijian Constitution, the military has broad powers to intervene in the political sphere and has been implicated in four coups in the past 35 years.

Read alsoFiji: the biggest threat is “devastating climate change”

While not a hard-line autocrat, Bainimarama frequently used the justice system to weed out opponents, silence critics, and muzzle the media.

Last week, police summoned Sitiveni Rabuka for questioning after they said there was an "


" in the preliminary election results.

This way the government is doing, we're talking about a climate of fear.

That's how they instill fear

,” Rabuka said, saying the move was a government intimidation strategy.

Two military coups

Frank Bainimarama, who came to power after a putsch, had been at the head of Fiji for 16 years.

Prime Minister of Fiji between 1992 and 1999, Sitiveni Rabuka thus returned to power.

He led two military coups in 1987, which aimed to increase the political influence of indigenous Fijians, who make up about 60% of the country's 900,000 people.

He was long viewed with suspicion by the country's large Indian ethnic minority, which was later further marginalized.

The arrival of Deputy Prime Minister Biman Prasad, a close political ally, is helping to soften his image.

Former Fiji rugby international Sitiveni Rabuka managed to hammer out a coalition deal with the Social Democratic Party to form government on Friday afternoon.

He could, however, have difficulty in holding his coalition which has only 29 seats out of 55 in parliament, of which only 28 voted for him in the secret ballot.

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2022-12-24

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