Fiji’s Bainimarama first world leader to congratulate Biden – too early

Joe Biden wins election
How Al Jazeera broke the news of Joe Biden winning the US presidential election. Image: Al Jazeera screenshot

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Fiji’s Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama is reported to have become the first world leader to publicly congratulate US President-elect Joe Biden on his victory – despite there being no clear winner yesterday morning when he did so.

Bainimarama took to Twitter on Saturday to express his well wishes to Biden and called on him to work toward tackling climate change, which is a major problem for Fiji and Pacific nations, reports Newsweek.

“Congratulations, @JoeBiden,” Bainimarama wrote. “Together, we have a planet to save from a #ClimateEmergency and a global economy to build back better from #COVID19. Now, more than ever, we need the USA at the helm of these multilateral efforts (and back in the #ParisAgreement — ASAP!)”

Biden has said he would rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement if he became president, saying the US would reverse President Donald Trump’s decision to leave the accord immediately after his inauguration.

Biden was declared victorious early today after successfully overturning his hometown state of Pennsylvania, giving him enough electoral college votes to surpass the required 270. Nevada was also declared for Biden a short time later.

Bainimarama has been Fiji’s prime minister since 2007, serving as acting prime minister from 2007 to 2014 following his 2006 military coup.

Fiji was the first country to ratify the Paris Climate Agreement.

Bainimarama was not the first world leader to offer congratulations on the outcome of the 2020 election. Slovenia Prime Minister Janez Janša congratulated President Donald Trump for his false declaration of “victory” on November 5, according to Newsweek.

The Independent "New Dawn"
How The Independent in the United Kingdom greeted the new presidency today. Image: The Independent

Janša’s tweet prompted criticism from some members of the European Parliament, while his claim that Trump would win the election was premature and mistaken.

It is common for world leaders to congratulate newly-elected presidents but most heads of government and heads of state wait until the election is concluded.

Ardern offers congratulations
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern shared a message of congratulations for Biden on his victory over Donald Trump.

Ardern said she looked forward to strengthening the ties between both nations in the coming years, reports TVNZ.

“There are many challenges in front of the international community right now, the message of unity from Joe Biden positions us well to take those challenges on,” she said.

Noting Biden’s previous visits to New Zealand in 2016, Prime Minister Ardern said the win would allow for the two countries to work closely on prominent issues like covid-19 and climate change.

“New Zealand will continue to work side-by-side with the United States on the issues that matter to both of us, including the prosperity, security, and sustainability in the Indo-Pacific and Pacific Island regions.”

Joe Biden wins - unity
Joe Biden wins the US presidency today – “time for America to unite”. Image: Al Jazeera screenshot
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