Fijian prosecutors are set to charge former Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama with abuse of office – an offence that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment in the Pacific nation.
It is alleged that Bainimarama and the country’s former police commissioner Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho interfered in an investigation into financial mismanagement at the University of the South Pacific (USP).
Christopher Pryde, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), said in a statement: “The former prime minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, and the suspended police commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho, are alleged to have arbitrarily and in abuse of the authority of their respective offices, terminated an active police investigation.”
“The police have also been requested to undertake further investigations into other matters arising from this case and more charges may be laid against other suspects in due course.”
Bainimarama and Qiliho were questioned in detail at CID headquarters last month and a number of police files on various matters are in the process of being reviewed in the Office of the DPP.
Bainimarama has recently resigned from the country’s parliament after he was suspended from the assembly for sedition until 2026 after a speech in which he criticised his successor, Sitiveni Rabuka, and president Wiliame Katonivere.
Bainimarama was forced to apologise to the Fijian public as a condition of his suspension from parliament.
Later, in a Facebook post, Bainimarama said the punishment meant it was best for him to depart.
“Whatever you or I may think of the decision, you and I will need to bear with it and respond in a positive and strategic manner.”
Bainimarama, a former coup leader, ruled over Fiji for 16 years. He created the FijiFirst party which won elections in 2014 and 2018. His party fell just short of a majority in the general election in December 2022.