Below Fijian election legal guidelines, a media blackout on marketing campaign protection was imposed on Monday till polling cubicles shut at 6pm on Wednesday. The blackout requires political events to take away banners, posters and flags from public show.
A Pacific commerce and transport hub with a inhabitants of 900,000, together with a sizeable Indian ethnic group, Fiji had a historical past of army coups till the structure was modified in 2013 to take away a race-based electoral system.
Its army chief, Main Basic Ro Jone Kalouniwai, advised officers in a public speech this month to “honour the democratic course of by respecting the result of the voting”, easing fears the intently contested nationwide election might result in one other coup.
A multinational observer group led by Australia, India and Indonesia will see about 90 election observers monitor polling cubicles and the nationwide vote counting centre.
Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who got here to energy in a 2006 coup, received democratic elections in 2014 and 2018.
Bainimarama has a excessive worldwide profile for local weather change advocacy and has been chairman of the Pacific Islands Discussion board, the regional diplomatic bloc, because it sought this yr to handle rising safety tensions between the US and China.
Fiji hosted a gathering between U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and the area in February, the place Washington dedicated extra diplomatic and safety sources as a counter to China’s drive for higher affect.
Fiji strengthened its safety ties with Australia, its largest help donor through the pandemic, after Solomon Islands signed a safety pact with China in April.
Earlier than the Covid-19 pandemic, China had been a big donor of apparatus to Fiji’s army. Dr Stewart Firth, a analysis fellow on the Australian Nationwide College who has written books on Fiji’s coups and Pacific politics, stated this election can be a “tight race”.
Bainimarama had received help from the Indian neighborhood since 2013 as a result of he abolished the race-based electoral system, he stated.
This election, the primary problem to Bainimarama is predicted to come back from one other former coup chief and prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka, whose Individuals’s Alliance Get together has shaped a coalition with Fiji’s oldest political occasion, Nationwide Federation Get together. NFP attracts a powerful multi-racial vote, Firth stated.
A report by worldwide observers on the conduct of the 2018 election stated it was “clear and credible”, whereas noting concern over self censorship by media.
The Multinational Observer Group’s 2018 report really helpful legal guidelines be reviewed so media might “confidently play their very important position” to scrutinise the efficiency of presidency and opposition.