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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 May 2006, 10:09 GMT 11:09 UK
Fiji PM sworn in for second term
Fijian Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase is adorned with a lei after claiming victory
Mr Qarase has already served one five-year term
Laisenia Qarase has been sworn in for a second term as Fiji's prime minister, following his narrow poll win.

Election officials confirmed his party won 36 seats in the 71-member parliament, while the party led by ethnic Indian Mahendra Chaudhry won 31.

There has been no violence reported as a result of the racially-charged poll.

However, Fiji faces the prospect of political instability as its powerful military leader warned he was unhappy with Mr Qarase's election victory.

Fiji's military commander has been a vocal critic of the prime minister's plans to offer amnesties to those involved in a coup six years ago, which deposed Mr Chaudhry, who was then serving as the country's first ethnic Indian prime minister.

Commodore Frank Bainimarama has in the past threatened to remove the government if such controversial legislation was passed.

Mr Qarase told the BBC's World Today programme on Thursday that he would introduce a revised bill ordering parliament to set up a commission to investigate the coup.

He admitted a possible outcome could be an amnesty for the coup leaders.

Race is a central issue in Fiji, where indigenous Fijians make up about 55% of the country's population, while most of the rest are of Indian origin.

The poll pitted Mr Qarase's indigenous SDL party against the Fiji Labour Party, led by ethnic Indian Mr Chaudhry.

Support from independents

Mr Qarase claimed victory after most of the votes had been counted on Wednesday. But official results were only available later - and even now the ballots for one seat have yet to be counted.

According to the official results, the SDL (Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua) party won 36 seats in the 71-seat parliament. Mr Qarase also claims to have the support of two independents, giving him a majority of 38 seats.

Mr Chaudhry's Labour Party won 31 seats, but is also thought to have the support of two candidates from a minor party.

Mr Qarase said on Wednesday that he would abide by the constitution and invite his Labour rivals into a new Cabinet.

But he said he hoped Mr Chaudhry would opt instead to remain in opposition, as he did after the 2001 election.

"I don't believe in a multi-party Cabinet. I believe that the party that wins should take it all, like in most other democracies," Mr Qarase said.

Why Fiji's racial divide remains as wide as ever

Counting begins in Fiji election
15 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Polling ends in Fijian election
13 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Ex-Fijian PM faces mutiny charge
12 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Race issue central to Fiji poll
06 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Q&A: Fiji election
05 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Fiji
08 Mar 06 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Fiji
12 May 06 |  Country profiles

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