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Fiji

Yearbook 1999

Fiji. In May, the country received an Indian Prime Minister for the first time. The leader of the Labor Party (Fiji Labor Party, FLP), Mahendra Chaudhry, was commissioned to form government after his party won a superior victory in the general elections May 8-15. It was the first elections under the 1997 Constitution that give representatives of peoples other than the country's native residents, the Fijians descended from the Melanesians, the right to become prime minister. The constitution also means that the seats in the House of Representatives are distributed more equitably between Fiji and other people groups. A total of 20 parties participated and voting was compulsory. FLP is dominated by ethnic Indians, who make up nearly half of the country's residents. The party received 37 of the 71 seats in the House of Representatives, while the former government party, the Fijian Political Party (SVT), suffered a devastating defeat when it could no longer rely on the former, highly discriminatory constitution. This guaranteed the Fijians majority in the House of Representatives, even though today they constitute only about half of the country's population. SVT received only eight seats, and its leader, former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, resigned as a result of the election.

1999 Fiji

Although FLP won its own majority in the House of Representatives, Chaudhry chose to form a coalition government with the Fiji-dominated Fiji Association Party (FAP), which with ten seats ended up second in the elections, and the Fijian Party of National Unity (PANU), which got four seats in the House of Representatives.

According to Countryaah official website, many Fijians are dissatisfied with the election results and the Fijians, in their view, have limited influence in the government. The leader of the traditional Melanesian Grand Chiefs tried to stop Chaudhry from speaking to its members, 80 Fijian chieftains who inherited his position, citing that he was not Fijian. But the president intervened, declaring that the new constitution allows the prime minister to speak before the council, regardless of ethnic affiliation.

In August, at least three bombings occurred in the capital Suva, which has been interpreted as an attempt to destabilize the coalition government. In September, the leaders of both FAP and PANU were also forced to step down. The FAP's female leader and deputy prime minister, Vuikaba Speed, had previously been pressured by a faction within the party to leave the government coalition in protest against the party being allocated only three posts in the government.

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