A positive step forward

FijiFirst party leader Rear Admiral (Ret) Voreqe Bainimarama is the sixth democratically-elected Prime Minister of Fiji.

Mr Bainimarama took his oath yesterday before the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, at Government House in Suva.

Yesterday’s events brought an end to the first part of the process to put a new government in place, and comes in the wake of his party’s landslide victory at the polls last week.

Earlier in the day, the Electoral Commission had returned the Writ of Election to the President at Government House.

It included the 50 names of people who will be in parliament.

Yesterday Mr Bainimarama took his Oath of Allegiance and Oath for Due Execution of Office.

He swore to be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Republic of Fiji according to law and swore to obey, observe, uphold and maintain the Constitution of the Republic of Fiji.

In accordance with Section 93(2) of the 2013 Constitution, Mr Bainimarama was sworn in as the democratically-elected Prime Minister as the leader of the political party which won more than 50 per cent of the total number of seats in Parliament.

The event was witnessed by members of the diplomatic corps, high ranking members of the disciplined forces and invited guests including Mr Bainimarama’s family.

He joins a group of men who have led our nation such as the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara and Dr Timoci Bavadra, Sitiveni Rabuka, Mahendra Chaudhry and Laisenia Qarase.

In the days ahead, interest will no doubt focus on the make-up of his cabinet.

Given the various key portfolios he held prior to the elections last week, and those held by the Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, there is obviously a lot of interest hovering on potential scenarios.

But there was no doubt yesterday was an important day for the nation.

Analysts will now be dissecting the figures released by the Fijian Elections Office for various reasons, whether it is to find out what caused such a massive swing towards FijiFirst, or how and why the other parties came out the way they did.

The numbers, however, make it quite difficult to get away from the fact that the masses are quite receptive to plans FijiFirst have in place.

As we move forward, another beautiful part of the process is the fact that there is room for an opposition.

How that works out in parliament is something to look forward to.

Understandably checks and balances are important in the new Fiji Mr Bainimarama has assured us.

It was encouraging to see both the National Federation Party and SODELPA finally coming to terms with their role in opposition.

SODELPA leader Ro Teimumu Kepa said the return of Fiji to democracy was the “first test of transparency and accountability” for Mr Bainimarama.

She said SODELPA would take up its position in the opposition and “make sure that the government of the day no longer avoids being accountable to the people”.

NFP leader Professor Biman Prasad said they planned to be an effective opposition.

One thing is certain, we are on the threshold of a new beginning. And that is exciting.