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

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Key Points
  • The leader of Fiji’s People’s Alliance party Sitiveni Rabuka has been questioned by police.
  • He had written to the military commander asking for an intervention in the election.
  • Frank Bainimarama’s FijiFirst party is leading the latest round of results with 40 per cent of the vote.
The man vying to be Fiji’s next prime minister was taken into custody and questioned by police after writing to the military commander asking for an intervention in the election.
People’s Alliance leader Sitiveni Rabuka left the police station in Suva just after 10pm local time on Friday, saying he hadn’t been arrested or charged.
The party’s general secretary was also taken in for questioning.
Deputy leader Lynda Tabuya said the development came as a shock but vowed to keep moving forward.

She said the party had followed the legal processes.

“We are not discouraged by this, we are steadfast,” she told reporters outside the police station before Mr Rabuka’s release.
Ms Tabuya said the party was told the questioning was in relation to the letter sent to the army commander.
She said Methodist Church Reverend Ili Vunisuwai was also taken in for questioning after he wrote a letter to the president and army commander and expressed concerns about the integrity of the election.
Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama’s FijiFirst party has pulled back ahead in the latest round of election results, garnering more than 40 per cent of the vote with half of all polling stations counted as of Saturday morning.

The opposition People’s Alliance led by former prime minister and coup leader Sitiveni Rabuka now sits on 36 per cent.

People’s Alliance’s vote dropped steadily from over 50 per cent in each tally update throughout Friday, with FijiFirst clawing back ground from 22 per cent.
The National Federation Party has eight per cent of the vote while the Social Democratic Liberal Party has just under six. The other five political parties remain below the five per cent threshold of votes required to qualify for a seat in the expanded 55-member parliament.
Mr Bainimarama – who came to power after instigating a coup in 2006 – has a personal vote of 28 per cent in Fiji’s single constituency while Mr Rabuka is sitting at 15 per cent.
A final tally is due on Sunday.

Despite being ahead in the polls before Friday’s final update, Mr Rabuka doubled down on claims of voting data irregularities and petitioned the Fijian public to register their concerns about electoral integrity.

Mr Rabuka also wanted the military to use its powers under the constitution to oversee a fair ballot count after alleging voting irregularities.
He said it would not be a coup because the army would not be running the government.
Major General Jone Kalouniwai declined to get involved, saying using the military in the electoral process would be unconstitutional and he maintained faith in the system.

The Multinational Observer Group says it has not observed “any significant irregularities or issues during pre-polling, postal voting or election day voting”.

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