By Lice Movono, RNZ Pacific correspondent in Suva
Fijians will go to the polls to choose their next government on December 14.
In a statement yesterday, the Fiji government said Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama visited President Wiliame Katonivere on Sunday morning to advise him on the date of the general election.
Parliament has also been dissolved with immediate effect as the government moves into caretaker mode.
Almost 700,000 Fijians are registered to choose their next government in a one-day election set to cost F$26 million.
The Chair of Fiji’s Electoral Commission, Mukesh Nand, said the Fijian Elections Office team of 7541 staff would conduct polling between 7.30am to 6pm on election day, in 855 venues across the country.
There are also 613 early voting venues. More than11,000 people registered for postal votes during the 2018 Fijian elections.
Bainimarama has been in power since a 2006 military coup that led to him becoming acting president and acting prime minister before being sworn in as prime minister following the 2014 election.
He also spent several months in Australia earlier this year recovering from heart surgery.
The ruling FijiFirst Party has announced a further 10 provisional candidates to its line up of aspiring parliamentarians, the most notable of whom is former SODELPA MP Mosese Bulitavu.
Opposition welcomes election
The leader of one of Fiji’s main opposition political parties said the next six weeks would be one of the most critical periods in the country’s history.
National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad said that four more years of Voreqe Bainimarama and his Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in power would destroy Fiji’s democracy and reduce the nation to a “two-man dictatorship”.
He said only a fresh start, under a new People’s Alliance and NFP government, could take Fiji away from the politics of fear and division.
Prasad said the people now had the chance to vote in a government that would bring the country together and “lead with vision, humility, and compassion”.
Fiji government agencies have plans to provide free transportation for all voters during election day.
The FBC reports the Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem as saying a public transport booklet would be released detailing what would be operating to help voters on polling day.
He said there would be alternatives in areas that had no bus services.
This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.