Final results showed Fiji's general election deadlocked on Sunday, with neither incumbent Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama nor his political rival Sitiveni Rabuka heading for a majority of seats in parliament.
Bainimarama's Fiji First party and a coalition led by Rabuka were both projected to secure 26 seats in the 55-seat parliament, according to a Fijian Election Office tally posted online.
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The cliffhanger result caps a tumultuous campaign marked by allegations of fraud and calls for the military to intervene.
The government will now be formed through what could be a drawn-out negotiation process, with both sides already courting the Social Democratic party, which holds three seats and the balance of power.
The Social Democrats are led by the deeply religious Viliame Gavoka, a former chairman of the Fijian Rugby Union who has fallen out with both Bainimarama and Rabuka.
Fiji is a small country of just 900,000 people but the result has regional significance -- Bainimarama has grown close to China, while Rabuka and Gavoka have both suggested loosening ties with Beijing.
Gavoka was arrested in 2010 for forwarding emails to tourism operators that featured a Fijian pastor falsely prophesying an impending tsunami.
His daughter is married to Bainimarama's right-hand man, the influential Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.
Land rights for Indigenous Fijians and free tertiary education are some of the Social Democratic party's key policies.
The Social Democrats earlier this week joined a coalition of five other political parties calling for vote counting to be immediately stopped and investigated.
It has been a dramatic few days in the South Pacific archipelago -- opposition leader and two-time coup plotter Rabuka has said the vote counting process was "clouded in secrecy" and was questioned by police after appealing to the military.
Bainimarama seized power through a 2006 putsch, and legitimized his government with outright election wins in 2014 and 2018.
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