Minor party becomes kingmaker after Fiji's divided election
By Alastair Wanklyn
The outcome of Fiji's election rests with a party that won only 5 percent of the vote. The party, Sodelpa, pledges to increase resources for Indigenous people.
Sodelpa is now negotiating with which bloc to place its support and thereby form a coalition government.
The election saw Fiji's prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, lose his party's parliamentary majority. Bainimarama first came to power when he led a coup 17 years ago. Since then he has either been in power or on the sidelines of it.
The prospect of Sodelpa entering government will likely bring change for students at universities and across the board for Indigenous Fijians.
Sodelpa campaigned promising free tertiary education and a tenfold increase in funding for Indigenous affairs. Sodelpa's leader says those demands remain nonnegotiable.
The only matter that remains at stake is which bloc it will join and therefore bring into governmnent: an opposition grouping or the party led by Prime Minister Bainimarama.
Heavy debt burden
Meanwhile, the Catholic Archbishop of Suva was among the voices urging people to vote.
In a series of statements, Archbishop Peter Loy Chong said a good government respects peoples’ dignity and rights, and puts the human person at the centre of the economy.
No government, he added, should seek to do what is best handled by families and communities.
He also noted Fiji spends most of its budget servicing foreign debt. The Archbishop said a solution might lie in the Church’s recommendations for overly burdened African nations, including seeking debt forgiveness.
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