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Updated Dec 20, 2022, 8:11am EST

Fiji to get new leader for first time in nearly two decades

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Fiji will get its first new prime minister in 16 years as three opposition parties joined together to form a coalition government after the Pacific island nation’s general election, ending Frank Bainimarama’s rule.

Fiji’s outgoing Prime Minister and Fiji First leader Frank Bainimarama leaves after voting at a polling station during the Fijian general election in Suva, Fiji, December 14, 2022
AAP Image/Mick Tsikas via REUTERS

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Bainimarama, who came to power during a 2006 coup and remained leader in subsequent democratic elections, was unseated after several days of vote counting.

The election, held last week, was deadlocked, with no party taking the required 28 seats to form government.

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On Tuesday the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) announced that it would form a coalition with the People’s Alliance and the National Federation Party. People’s Alliance leader Sitiveni Rabuka will become the new prime minister.

Rabuka thanked the people of Fiji in a livestreamed news conference: “They have voted for change and we have given them that,” he said.

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SODELPA leader Viliame Gavoka told reporters Sunday that his party favors relationships with nearby Australia and New Zealand over closer ties with China, Radio Free Asia reports. “Our relationship with China will be guided by the Australian, [and] New Zealand governments.” Gavoka said.

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