The ruling FijiFirst party is refusing to concede the 2022 general election, saying it can only be called after the election of the prime minister on the floor of parliament.
Party general secretary Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said Frank Bainimarama remained prime minister and FijiFirst was still the government of the day under the 2013 constitution.
"Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama is still prime minister, please get that right. All the ministers ... continue as ministers until the next government is appointed," Sayed-Khaiyum said at a media conference.
A coalition of the People's Alliance (PA), National Federation (NFP), and Sodelpa (Social Democratic Liberal Party), formed after FijiFirst failed to secure an outright majority, declared themselves the incoming government in a joint letter to Fiji's President.
However, Sayed-Khaiyum said the letter held no weight under the constitution.
"Please also get that right because a lot of people think that just because certain letters have been sent flying around...therefore, the prime minister is no more, the ministers are no more. They are still in office as per the constitution," he said.
At the media conference, Sayed-Khaiyum stated FijiFirst was under no legal obligation to relinquish its position.
"What's there to concede defeat about?
"At the end of the day, what matters is on the floor of parliament. That's the legal premise," he said.
Sayed-Khaiyum said under section 93.3 of the constitution, if no one had a majority, a vote through a secret ballot on the floor of the parliament would be the decider.
"Drawing up a letterhead very quickly, with these three logos on, it has no legal weight whatsoever.
"Please, don't write another thousand letters like this, [it] won't make a difference to section 93 of the constitution."
Despite rejecting validity of negotiations among political parties outside parliamentary process, Sayed-Khaiyum still questioned the internal protocols adopted by Sodelpa to determine their coalition partner.
He referred to comments made by outgoing Sodelpa general secretary Lenaitasi Duru that there were anomalies in the voting process.
In a letter to the President of Fiji, Duru asked for the deferral of the sitting of parliament.
"This request is based on the Sodelpa constitutional anomalies of members that participated in the vote to determine our coalition partner to form government from December 2022," Duru said.
"Given the importance of this process in choosing our next government, we therefore wish to advise that the initial result taken by the board is null and void."
Earlier that day, Duru told the media, he facilitated the secret ballot counting process and witnessed irregularities.
"The quorum is made of 22 members ... but present at voting was 30 of which four was non-compliant and some of those they were sitting there wasn't supposed to be voting," he said.
RNZ Pacific has contacted Sodelpa for comment.
Duru said while he attempted to voice this concern, it fell on deaf ears. "I was disappointed at the way the management board didn't listen to my advice."
FijiFirst confirmed they had received a directive from Duru that another round of negotiations would be held 'to determine party direction' which the ruling party is keen to explore again.
"We obviously look forward to them meeting again ... and obviously quite happy and willing to do so," he said, while also stating promises made during partnerships negotiation would hold no ground in parliament.
"At the end of the day, what matters is what happens on the floor of parliament. That's the legal premise," Sayed-Khaiyum said.
'Test of true democracy'
NFP leader Biman Prasad said he had faith is FijiFirst, labelling the party champions of democracy.
"The test for true democracy is a smooth transition and we, the people, and the international community expect that to happen.
"We are confident because Mr Bainimarama himself has in the last eight years told the world that we have genuine democracy in this country and I'm sure he genuinely meant it. Therefore, we expect a smooth transition to a new government," Prasad said.
Former coup leader Sitiveni Rabuka, now heading the coalition, also holds out hope that a smooth transition of government is on the horizon.
"I accepted my defeat in 1999, congratulated Mr Chaudhary outside the president's house and office and I hope we can do that.
"We cannot live forever, we cannot rule forever," Rabuka said.
An early acknowledgment of a government by either side will serve the island nation well, considering its long history with instability, Victoria University of Wellington Professor in Comparative Politics Jon Fraenkel said.
He said Bainimarama and Sayed-Khaiyum had been calling for stability and "the honourable thing to do is concede defeat".
"He needs to resign and take up the position of opposition because there is a constitutional process to be followed.
Fraenkel said it was important FijiFirst respect their own constitution.
"That constitution, of course, was imposed on the people of Fiji by FijiFirst. So, if they move in violation of their own constitution, they would move back into a period of severe instability in Fiji."
Fear of instability
On Wednesday, Fiji Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho said he had received reports of vandalism, particularly stone throwing following Rabuka's coalition announcement.
"We've received reports of some stoning of our minority group, businesses and homes, in particular, the Indo-Fijian community, those that we've attended to last night, and some have just called up telling us what has happened, [asked] if we can send patrols in the area.
"They don't want to put down a formal report of fear of further reprisals, because they live with ... people in the area.
"We classified them as not as serious reports, it's being investigated," he said.
FijiFirst was quick to claim these attacks as signs of instability that the country would continue to experience if the opposition coalition formed a government.
"The toxic environment that's been created since yesterday on social media shows the level of racism in this country is heightened," Sayed-Khaiyum said.
"Not once did NFP, PAP and the Labour Party come out and say stop it," he said.
However, Rabuka had in an earlier press conference called for peace.
"I urge the people of Fiji, leaders of all political parties, religions and communities, to respect the rule of law and to allow the political process to continue without hindrance.
"From 1992 to now, in 30 years, it has been a great era for them [Indo-Fijians]. They have seen no discriminatory policies introduced by my government in 1992-1999. They should be pretty certain that I mean what I said then and what I say now," Rabuka said.
The Police Commissioner has also issued a call for calm and respect.
"To respect the electoral process that's going on now. And until we get over that, if people need to celebrate; they need to celebrate with humility, responsibility, and respect for others, and to keep the peace as we go through to the Christmas and New Year period," Qiliho said.
The first sitting of parliament is yet to be announced and Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says according to the constitution the latest the president can call it is January 2, which is 14 days after the return of the writ of election.