SUVA (Repúblika / Pacific Scoop / Pacific Media Watch): Fiji’s once military dictator is today a democratically elected Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama claimed victory for his Fiji First party at a thanksgiving service this morning at the National Stadium in Suva’s Laucala Bay, saying they had secured 32 seats in Fiji’s 50-seat parliament.
“This is a victory for all Fijians. This is when history will record that as a nation, we embraced a new future,” he said.
“I am the Prime Minister of all Fijians, for all Fijians. The days of pandering to special interests groups, elites and certain areas of the country are over.”
He thanked his supporters for turning out in numbers from around the country and his party organisers in Fiji and around the world for their work to get him elected. His victory speech:
My fellow Fijians,
As you know, FijiFirst has won the general election and I will lead the new government to serve the nation.
I’m deeply honoured and humbled that the Fijian people have put their trust in me to lead them into our new and true democracy. I give you my absolute promise that we will govern for the wellbeing of all Fijians.
First and foremost, I want to thank my family, and especially my wife, Mary, for the loving support they have given me over the course of this campaign and over the past eight years.
I want to thank the officers and the rank and file of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces who have unwaveringly stood by me since the events of 2000 and who have stood for the ideal of true democracy. I wish to publicly acknowledge and thank them for their camaraderie, their vision, their perseverance and their sacrifice. It is their legacy that today we have a democratically elected parliamentary government under an internationally acclaimed constitution with a vast array of civil, political and socio-economic rights and that will deliver good governance and transparency.
I also want to thank our supporters, who turned up in such great numbers across the nation to vote for Fiji First. I know not everyone voted for me. But the fact that we have so far secured approximately 60 percent of votes, equating to approximately 32 seats in the 50 seat Parliament, demonstrates the enthusiasm, faith and trust the Fijian people have had for both the track record of my government and Fiji First’s manifesto. I wish to take this opportunity to thank them for that faith and trust they have put in me and Fiji First. I also wish to thank them for their desire and enthusiasm to embrace a new, peaceful and prosperous Fiji.
The election has been run extremely well. And I want to pay a special tribute to the Supervisor of Elections, Mr Mohammed Saneem, whose calm yet decisive leadership skills were exemplary, his army of support staff, the Electoral Commission, the multinational observer group, or MOG, for their professionalism, and the international partners for making this the most efficient, the most transparent and credible election in Fiji’s history.
I would also like to thank each of my candidates for their hard work during the campaign. We tried as hard as we could to win all 50 seats and I’m sorry that some of you have missed out. But rest assured that your hard work for our movement will not be forgotten and I will always be grateful.
I also want to thank our party workers and volunteers, the army of ordinary men and women who believe in us and our cause and gave up many hours, days and weeks to help us carry our message to the nation. This is your victory too because we simply couldn’t have done it without you. You put Fiji first because you passionately believe in our mission to build a better nation. And thanks to you, that mission continues.
Vinaka vakalevu to all of you.
While I’m sure that the supporters of other political parties are disappointed, I want to say to them that this is how parliamentary democracy works. I also want to say to them that I intend to govern for all Fijians. I will be your Prime Minister too. Because I passionately believe in One Nation, One Fiji and that everyone has a place in it, whoever you are, wherever you come from and whoever you voted for.
In this election, an overwhelming majority of Fijians have embraced the principal of unity that binds us all together. We are strong as a nation. In fact, we have never been stronger.
An overwhelming majority of us have turned our backs on the politics of division and embraced a united future. We have chosen the path of fairness and justice. The path of equal opportunity. To the minority who are still caught in the past, I say to you, please come and lets all move forward together – we must have an inclusive Fiji in which no-one is left behind.
I am the Prime Minister of all Fijians, for all Fijians. The days of pandering to special interests groups, elites and certain areas of the country are over. Now, the days of meeting the needs of ordinary people and their families will continue and with renewed fervour. We intend to ride the current wave of economic growth that is certain to now increase even more. We will use this growth to meet the needs of all Fijians – to improve services, create more jobs in particular for our youth and continue with building more and better infrastructure.
The next phase of our reforms will build upon what has already been started but we will take it quickly to another level. These include overhauling the Civil Service to streamline it, make it very professional and far more efficient.
We went to the nation with that message of service, of delivering what people need to improve their own lives. And I intend – in the new Parliament – to redouble our efforts to provide service to every Fijian in every part of the country. We have a vision of a prosperous, modern and inclusive Fiji and we intend to achieve it.
I call on every Fijian – no matter who they voted for in this election – to join me on that mission, to work hand in hand to make Fiji truly the way the world should be.
This is a victory for all Fijians. This is when history will record that as a nation, we embraced a new future. I passionately believe that the future must be based on unity, equality, compassion and love. And I am deeply touched and grateful that so many of you have shared my vision and put your trust in me to take our beloved nation forward.
As well as forming a Government, I will be travelling to New York in the coming days to attend the United Nations General Assembly. There, I will tell the world what we have just accomplished in Fiji. It will be a landmark occasion. Because I promised the nation of Fiji and the international community that I would take Fiji to the first genuine democracy in our history and I have kept that promise, thanks to the support of the Fijian people.
But this is not the end of the journey. It is only the beginning. Today we rededicate ourselves to making Fiji Great, the pre-eminent Pacific Island nation and one respected the world over. It is a future that we owe our young people. It is a future that we owe ourselves.
As I have said all through this campaign, there has never been a better time to be Fijian. And with God’s blessing, even better days lie ahead. Because we have never been more united or more committed as Fijians to finally fulfilling our destiny.
May God be with us as we strive to build a better nation for all Fijians. May God bless Fiji.
Vinaka Vakalevu. Thank you.
After the formalities, Bainimarama was mobbed by hundreds of supporters wanting to shake his hand and get photos with him.
Refreshments were provided for the people and Bainimarama called on his party workers to take food prepared for him and give it to the crowds.
With 59.1 per cent of the final total vote, Fiji First gained 32 seats in the new 50-seat Parliament, SODELPA (28.3 percent) 15 and the National Federation Party (NFP) (5.4 percent) 3.
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