2001 Fijian general election

Last updated
2001 Fijian general election
Flag of Fiji.svg
  1999 August–September 2001 2006  
 First partySecond party
  Fiji 2004 Mr Qarase (cropped).jpg Mahendra Chaudhry 2015.jpg
Leader Laisenia Qarase Mahendra Chaudhry
Party SDL Labour
Last election32.2%, 37 seats
Seats won3227
Seat changeNewDecrease2.svg 10
Percentage26.0%34.8

Prime Minister of Fiji before election

Mahendra Chaudhry
Labour

Elected Prime Minister of Fiji

Laisenia Qarase
SDL

General elections were held in Fiji in August and September 2001. The Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua party won 18 of the 23 seats reserved for ethnic Fijians and one of three "general electorates" set aside for Fiji's European, Chinese, and other minorities. It also won 13 of the 25 "open electorates," so-called because they are open to candidates of any race and are elected by universal suffrage. The remaining 5 ethnic Fijian seats, and one open electorate, were won by the Conservative Alliance, one of whom was George Speight who had led the putsch against the lawful government the year before. Chaudhry's Labour Party won all 19 Indo-Fijian seats and 9 open electorates. The New Labour Unity Party, formed by defectors from the FLP, won one general electorate and one open electorate. The three remaining seats (one general electorate, one open electorate, and the Rotuman Islanders' seat) were won by minor parties and independent candidates.

Contents

Background

The Constitution of Fiji was restored by a High Court decision on 15 November 2000, following the failure of the political upheaval in which the government had been deposed and the constitution suspended in May that year. On 1 March 2001, the Appeal Court upheld the decision. An election to restore democracy was held in September 2001. In what was one of Fiji's most bitterly fought elections ever, the newly formed Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua of the interim Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase narrowly defeated the Fiji Labour Party of deposed former Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry.

The FLP had been hurt by leadership bickering in the wake of the coup, and the subsequent defection of a number of its high-profile members from the ethnic Fijian community, including Tupeni Baba, the former Deputy Prime Minister. The mutual refusal of the FLP and the National Federation Party, the only other political party with significant Indo-Fijian support, to reach a preference-swapping deal had also worked against both parties. (In Fiji's system of transferable voting, any two or more candidates in a particular constituency can have their votes combined, unless the electors specify a different option by ranking the candidates numerically in order of their preference).

Results

Summary of the 24 August, 2 and 19 September 2001 House of Representatives of Fiji election results
PartiesVotes%Seats
Fiji Labour Party FLP34.827
Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua (United Fiji Party)SDL26.032
National Federation Party NFP10.11
Conservative Alliance (Matanitu Vanua)MV9.96
Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei SVT5.5-
New Labour Unity Party NLUP4.52
Bei Kai Viti BKVi2.2-
Fijian Association Party FAP1.3-
Party of National Unity PANU1.2-
United General Party UGP0.51
Non-partisans-2.72
Total (turnout 78.9 %) 71
Source: UNDP

Aftermath

Controversy continued after the 2001 election, with Prime Minister Qarase finding reasons, which many considered to be pretexts, for not implementing the power-sharing provisions of the Constitution, which required that every political party with more than 8 seats in the House of Representatives must be proportionally represented in the Cabinet. On 18 July 2003, the Supreme Court of Fiji ruled that Qarase's exclusion of the Labour Party from the Cabinet was unconstitutional, and demanded that the situation be rectified. Appeals, counter-appeals, and negotiations delayed the implementation of the order. In June 2004, the Supreme Court ruled that the Labour Party was entitled to 14 out of 30 Cabinet posts. Qarase has said that he would abide by the ruling, but his refusal to include Chaudhry in the Cabinet lineup continued to stall negotiations, until the FLP announced in November that it was no longer interested in participating in the Qarase-led government.

Related Research Articles

Mahendra Chaudhry

The Rt. Hon. Mahendra Pal Chaudhry is a Fijian and the leader of the Fiji Labour Party. Following a historic election in which he defeated the long-time former leader, Sitiveni Rabuka, the former trade union leader became Fiji's first Indo-Fijian Prime Minister on 19 May 1999, but exactly one year later, on 19 May 2000 he and most of his Cabinet were taken hostage by coup leader George Speight, in the Fiji coup of 2000. Unable to exercise his duties, he and his ministers were sacked by President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara on 27 May; Mara intended to assume emergency powers himself but was himself deposed by the military leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama. After 56 days in captivity, Chaudhry was released on 13 July and subsequently embarked on a tour of the world to rally support. He was one of the leading voices raised in opposition to the Qarase government's proposed Reconciliation and Unity Commission, which he said was just a mechanism to grant amnesty to persons guilty of coup-related offences. In January 2007 he was appointed as Minister of Finance, Sugar Reform Public Enterprise and National Planning in the interim Cabinet of Commodore Frank Bainimarama, following another coup. Chaudhry was also co-chair of the task force focusing on economic growth within the National Council for Building a Better Fiji. In August 2008, he left the government and became an outspoken critic of it.

Fiji Labour Party Political party in Fiji

The Fiji Labour Party (FLP), also known as Fiji Labour, is a political party in Fiji. Most of its support is from the Indo-Fijian community, although it is officially multiracial and its first leader was an indigenous Fijian, Dr. Timoci Bavadra. The party has been elected to power twice, with Timoci Bavadra and Mahendra Chaudhry becoming prime minister in 1987 and 1999 respectively. On both occasions, the resulting government was rapidly overthrown by a coup.

Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua Political party in Fiji

The United Fiji Party was a political party in Fiji. It was founded in 2001 by Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase as a power base; it absorbed most of the Christian Democratic Alliance and other conservative groups, and its endorsement by the Great Council of Chiefs (Bose Levu Vakaturaga) caused it to be widely seen as the successor to the Alliance Party, the former ruling party that had dominated Fijian politics from the 1960s to the 1980s. It draws its support mainly from indigenous Fijiians.

Tupeni Lebaivalu Baba is a Fijian academic and politician, who founded the now-defunct New Labour Unity Party. Most members of this party later merged with several other centrist parties to form the Fiji Democratic Party. A former Professor of Education at the University of the South Pacific (USP), he later served as a senior research fellow at the Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, from 2001 to the end of 2005. In the general election scheduled for 6–13 May 2006, Baba attempted a political comeback, this time on the ticket of the ruling Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL), a political switch that generated a considerable degree of public discussion. Although his bid was unsuccessful, he was subsequently appointed to the Senate as one of nine nominees of the Fijian government.

Adi Kuini Teimumu Vuikaba Speed was a Fijian chief and politician, who served as Deputy Prime Minister in 1999 and 2000.

Ratu Tevita Momoedonu was a Fijian politician who served as the fifth Prime Minister of Fiji twice – each time extremely briefly. Both appointments were to get around constitutional technicalities; his first term of office – on 27 May 2000 lasted only a few minutes. His second term – from 14 to 16 March 2001 was for two days. He subsequently served his country as Ambassador of Fiji to Japan. Using his chiefly title of "Taukei Sawaieke", he later led pushes for the Yasana of Ba to secede from the Burebasaga and Kubuna Confederacies to form their own fourth confederacy under the Tui Vuda, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, who died in 2011.

Conservative Alliance-Matanitu Vanua Political party in Fiji

The Conservative Alliance was a right-wing political party in Fiji, and a member of the ruling coalition government. It was commonly known as the CAMV, a combination of the initials of its English and Fijian names. At its annual general meeting on 17 February 2006, the party voted to dissolve itself and merge with its coalition partner, the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL). The President of the party at the time of its dissolution was Ratu Tanoa Cakobau, a Bauan chief, while Ratu Josefa Dimuri served as General Secretary. For legal reasons, Parliamentary members of the disbanded party maintained a separate caucus in the House of Representatives, under the leadership of Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, until the end of the parliamentary term, on 27 March 2006.

George Shiu Raj is an Indo-Fijian former politician, who served as Minister for Multi-Ethnic Affairs from 2001 to 30 September 2004, when he resigned amid accusations of misuse of funds. At the time, he was the only Indo-Fijian minister in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase. On 8 September 2005, he was acquitted of charges of conspiracy to defraud the government and of obtaining money under false pretenses, and Prime Minister Qarase announced his decision to reappoint Raj to the Cabinet. He was duly sworn in by Vice-President Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi on 13 September.

Fijian Association Party

The Fijian Association Party (FAP) is a former political party in Fiji. It played a significant role in Fijian politics throughout the 1990s, but lost all of its seats in the House of Representatives in the parliamentary election of 2001.

Fiji Democratic Party

The Fiji Democratic Party is a former political party in Fiji, which operated between June 2002 and April 2005.

Teimumu Kepa Fijian politician

Ro Teimumu Vuikaba Kepa is a Fijian chief, Member of the Parliament of Fiji, and former leader of the Social Democratic Liberal Party. She was the first Fijian woman to serve as Leader of the Opposition. She previously held the position of deputy Prime Minister in the Qarase-led Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL) government from 2001 to 2006. As the paramount chief of the Burebasaga Confederacy, she holds the title Roko Tui Dreketi.

Christian Democratic Alliance (Fiji) Political party in Fiji

The Christian Democratic Alliance, better known locally by its Fijian name, Veitokani ni Lewenivanua Vakarisito (VLV), was a Fijian political party that operated in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Poseci Waqalevu Bune is a former Fijian politician, who has served as Deputy Leader of the Fiji Labour Party (FLP). From June to December 2006, he served as Minister for the Environment, one of nine FLP ministers, in the multiparty Cabinet of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase. His ministerial career was terminated by the coup d'état that deposed the government on 5 December 2006, but on January 8, 2007, he was appointed as Minister for Public Service and Public Service Reform in the interim Cabinet of Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

2006 Fijian general election General elections in Fiji held on 6–13 May 2006

The Constitution of Fiji requires general elections for the House of Representatives to be held at least once every five years. The last election before Fiji's 2014 election was held on 6–13 May 2006. Acting President Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi issued a proclamation on 2 March, effective from 27 March, dissolving Parliament. The previous parliamentary term had been due to expire on 1 October 2006.

Ilaitia Bulidiri Tuisese is a former Fijian politician, who served in Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's Cabinet from 2000 to 2006.

Losena Tubanavau Salabula is a former Fijian politician, who served in the Cabinet as Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office. In this role, she undertook assignments on behalf of the Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase. Prior to assuming this post in May 2006, she was Assistant Minister for Women, Assistant Minister for Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation, and Assistant Minister in the Prime Minister's Office.

Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi, is a Fijian politician of Indian descent. He was one of the youngest members to be elected into Parliament in 1992. He has represented the Nadroga Indian Communal Constituency, which he won for the Fiji Labour Party (FLP) in the parliamentary elections of 1992, 1994, 1999, 2001, and 2006. After the 1999 election he was appointed Assistant Minister in Prime Minister's Office. He was appointed Minister for Youth and Sports and Employment Opportunities in the interim administration that followed the military coup that took place on 5 December 2006. He was born to a family of Rajasthani descent.

John Ali is a Fiji Indian politician who won the Nasinu Rewa Open Constituency, one of the 25 open seats, for the Fiji Labour Party during the 1999 elections for the House of Representatives.

Ponipate Tawase Lesavua was a Fijian politician, who led the now-defunct Party of National Unity, which drew most of its support from Ba Province in the West of the country. The former Police officer, who spent 20 years in the Criminal Investigation Department, was an outspoken politician, who championed what he saw as the interests of western Fiji. He has endorsed calls for a return to the former system of customary justice, in force during the colonial era, under which convicted offenders would be returned to their villages not only for punishment but also for counselling and correction, according to the Fiji Times.

Josaia Waqabaca is a Fijian public figure and former political organizer, who turned police informant about the Fiji coup of 2000. Waqabaca was convicted and imprisoned in 2001 for plotting to kidnap the Military Commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, in 2000.