Fijian police on Thursday said they were calling in the military to help maintain security following a close election last week that is now being disputed.
It was an alarming development in a Pacific nation where democracy remains fragile and there have been four military coups in the past 35 years. The two main contenders for prime minister this year were former coup leaders themselves.
Police Commissioner Brig. Gen. Sitiveni Qiliho said in a statement that after police and military leaders met with Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama they collectively decided to call in army and navy personnel to assist.
The commissioner said there had been threats made against minority groups who were “now living in fear following recent political developments.”
Reporters in the capital, Suva, said there were no immediate signs of any military presence on city streets.
The military move came after Bainimarama’s Fiji First party refused to concede the election, despite rival Sitiveni Rabuka’s party and two other parties announcing they had the numbers to form a majority coalition and would serve as the next government.
Fiji First Gen. Sec. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum told media Wednesday that under the nation’s constitution, Bainimarama would remain prime minister until lawmakers returned to Parliament within two weeks to vote on the next leader.