Fiji’s indigenous PM declares victory in elections
SUVA (Reuters) – Fiji’s indigenous prime minister, Laisenia
Qarase, claimed victory on Wednesday in the South Pacific
nation’s general elections after a racially-charged campaign
aimed at stopping ethnic Indians gaining power.
“We will have a working majority and that’s good enough,”
Qarase told local radio as votes were counted for the final
“I would like to acknowledge the hand of God for the
victory. I believe God has a plan for Fiji and the SDL is part
of that plan for Fiji,” he said.
Qarase’s ruling indigenous Fijian party (SDL) won 32 of the
71 seats in parliament, with a further two seats going to
independents linked to the SDL.
There are 10 seats still to be declared and Qarase’s SDL is
expected to win a further two more seats in electorates
dominated by indigenous voters.
Local radio projected the SDL would control 37-38 seats.
The party of opposition leader Mahendra Chaudhry, an ethnic
Indian Fijian who was toppled as prime minister in a 2000 coup,
had taken 27 seats. His Fiji Labor Party is expected to win 33
or 34 seats.
Fiji has been rocked by three racially motivated coups and
an army mutiny since 1987.
Indigenous Fijians make up 51 percent of the 906,000
population and fear the economic clout of ethnic Indians, who
dominate the economy, will be matched by political power.