Fiji’s coup leader, Voreqe Bainimarama, has declared himself the winner of the general elections, even though the final count has not been released.
Voreqe Bainimarama (pictured above) on Sunday told his supporter that his Fiji First Party secured victory in general elections and he will head the upcoming government to "serve the nations."
Fijians voted on Wednesday in the nation's first ever democratic election after eight years under military rule that brought Bainimarama to power. The ex-naval officer has led the Pacific island country as prime minister since 2007 after overthrowing governments twice in military coups.
Bainimarama's thousands of supporters gathered on Sunday in a sports stadium to hear the announcement of his election "victory."
"I am deeply honored and humbled that the Fijian people have put their trust in me to lead them into our new and true democracy," Bainimarama said, in an address broadcast by the Fiji Broadcasting Corp (FBC).
"I am the prime minister for all Fijians. We have a vision of a prosperous, modern and an inclusive Fiji and we intend to achieve it," he added.
The preliminary results from Fiji Electoral Office show Fiji First has secured roughly 59 percent of the vote. It put the Social Democratic Liberal Party on 28.3 after 88 percent of votes had been counted. The opposition has accused his party of rigging the votes. However, a 92-member observer group has said that the election has been conducted in largely free and fair environment.
The election office said that Fiji First seemed close to a majority in the 50-seat parliament.
'First genuine democracy' in Fiji
Bainimarama, 60, seized power in a bloodless coup in December 2006 on the pretext of corruption and discrimination against ethnic Indians who comprise about 40 percent of Fiji's 900,000 citizens.
Following the coup, Fiji faced sanctions from regional powers Australia and New Zealand. The sanctions were lifted this year.
The conflicts between ethnic and Indian population have led to many coups, including in 2000 after members of Fiji's ethnic population held the first Indo-Fijian prime minister hostage in parliament for 56 days.
Bainimarama announced a plan to visit New York in the near future where he will attend the United Nations General Assembly.
"It will be a landmark occasion, because I promised the nation of Fiji and the international community that I will take Fiji to the first genuine democracy in our history and I have kept that promise," he said.
jng/kms (AFP, Reuters)