– Officials call in the army to maintain ‘security’
After the defeat of incumbent Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, officials called in the military to maintain security and stability in Fiji.
Fijian authorities have called in the military to help “maintain security and stability” after outgoing Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama’s legislative election defeat, police said on Thursday. In a statement, police said “intelligence” about unspecified ethnic tensions and “planned civil unrest” — by commanders loyal to Frank Bainimarama — was the justification for calling in the army.
According to Police Commissioner Chithiveni Giliho, this “consensus decision” was reached after a meeting between Defense Minister Frank Bainimarama, military leaders and himself.
Elections scheduled for 14 December ended in an agreement on 20 December between the Social Democratic Party and Frank Bainimarama’s rival, Chithiveni Rabuka. The news led to scenes of jubilation in the process, particularly in the capital, Suva, where Fijians celebrated the end of semi-official rule.
Fear of a new coup
After 16 years in power, Frank Bainimarama’s party faces defeat and Bainimarama’s ally, Fijian President William Katoniware, has yet to convene parliament to elect a new prime minister. Many fear a new coup. Fiji has had four in the last 35 years and the military presence hung on this election.
After the opposition victory, police expressed concern over “stone-throwing” and violence against the Indo-Fijian minority who support Mr Bainimarama. The company later admitted that these potential incidents were not investigated. AFP journalists in Suva did not observe any unrest.
On Thursday, Commissioner Chithiveni Giliho again referred to inter-ethnic conflicts. “The Fiji Police and Armed Forces have received new information and reports of threats against minorities who are now living in fear,” he said. “Continued attacks on minorities have exacerbated existing tensions.”