11 May 2024

Frank Bainimarama to remain Fiji First leader

From , 6:03 am on 11 May 2024
Former Fiji PM Frank Bainimarama announcing his resignation.

Former Fiji PM Frank Bainimarama announcing his resignation. Photo: Facebook / FijiFirst

The FijiFirst Party says Frank Bainimarama will remain as their leader despite his custodial sentence.

Mr Bainimarama was sentenced to one year in jail on Thursday in the High Court in relation to a conviction for perverting the course of justice.

In a press conference held after the sentencing founding party member Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum told local media more than 30 percent of registered voters cast their ballots for Mr Bainimarama at the last elections which makes him the country's single most popular leader.

When asked if Mr Bainimarama would still be eligible to contest the elections in 2026 he said it was dependent on the appeals process.

Frank Bainimarama's conviction and sentencing if upheld would rule him out of the 2026 and 2030 elections.

Given his dominance at the polls since the restoration of democracy in 2014, this would be a significant change in the dynamics of Fiji politics.

RNZ Pacific Editor Koroi Hawkins spoke to Victoria University of Wellington, professor of comparative politics and Melanesian governance expert Jon Fraenkel.