Ex-Fiji PM Bainimarama ‘will be a prisoner’ – ‘This is his end’, academic says

A string of charges against former Fiji prime minister Frank Bainimarama means the end of the former military strongman’s political career is imminent, a Fijian academic says.

Last week, the Acting Chief Justice Salesi Temo reversed the acquittal of Bainimarama, alongside the suspended police chief Sitiveni Qiliho, on charge on a charge of perverting the course of justice for a case dating back to 2019. Qiliho was charged with one count of abuse of office.

According to the Crimes Act, his charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail. An abuse of office charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.

Bainimarama is also charged, alongside former Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and former health minister Neil Sharma, for failing to comply with statutory requirements for tenders. And in another case, he is charged for unwarranted demand made by a public official, for which he has pleaded not guilty.

The University of the South Pacific governance and social studies Professor Vijay Naidu said prison time of at least 12 months would mean “the end of Frank Banimarama’s political career” as it will rule him out from contesting at least two elections.

“This is his end. He has many, many worries. He will be a prisoner in the coming months. I think it is not a good future ahead of him,” Professor Naidu said.

“I have some doubt whether the maximum penalties will be imposed. But certainly a minimum of 12 months will be likely and that will end his political future.”

Professor Vijay Naidu

Bainimarama and Qiliho will be sentenced on 28 March.

Professor Naidu said the sentencing would have serious implications.

“As for [suspended] police commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho, he can forget about retuning ever to any public service employment.”

RNZ Pacific contacted Bainimarama’s lawyer for comment. He said he is unable to comment as the matter is before the court.

Banimarama was the highest polling candidate in the 2022 general election – receiving over 136,000 votes (29 percent total votes)more than double that of current prime minister Sitiveni Rabuka.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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