The Awami League and Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama’s FijiFirst Party are now neck and neck in the polls, with both on 38 percent and more than a quarter of polling stations counted.
Turnout for the Awami League has fallen steadily from above 50 per cent in every statistical update throughout Friday, with Fiji Priority falling back from 22 per cent.
The National Federation Party has 7 percent of the vote, while the Social Democratic Freedom Party has 6 percent.
The other five parties remained below the 5% threshold needed to gain seats in the expanded 55-member parliament.
Bainimarama, who came to power after instigating a coup in 2006, has 26 percent of the individual vote in Fiji’s single constituency, compared with Rabuka’s 14 percent.
The final tally will be announced on Sunday.
Despite leading in the polls ahead of Friday’s final update, Rabuka doubled down on allegations of voting data breaches and asked the Fijian public to voice their concerns about the integrity of the election.
Rabuka also wants the military to use its constitutional powers to oversee a fair ballot count after accusations of voting irregularities.
He said it would not be a coup because the army would not run the government.
Major General Jones Kalouniwai declined to take part, saying the use of the military in the electoral process was unconstitutional and he maintained his faith in the system.
“I want to assure the people of Fiji that the RFMF (Republic of Fiji Army) will not respond to Rabuka’s insistence or any political party,” Maj Gen Kalouniwai told Radio New Zealand.
Opposition parties have raised concerns about the preliminary vote count after the results changed dramatically after the election app went offline due to a glitch.
The People’s Alliance was ahead of FijiFirst, but that changed when the app came back online hours after election night Wednesday.
Elections director Mohammed Saneem said that when the ballots were uploaded to the results app, the votes of the candidates did not match, resulting in an unusually high number of votes for some candidates.
But Saneem said there was nothing wrong with the database because votes were counted and verified manually.
He said that while the app was down, a large number of polling places reported their results, which is why the overall tally was updated.
Rabuka and three other opposition leaders said they could not trust the information posted on the app and questioned the integrity of the data transmission from manual counting to posting online.
All refused to express confidence in Fiji’s electoral office.
The multinational observer group said it had not observed “any major irregularities or issues during the pre-voting, mail-in voting or Election Day voting”.
Co-chair and Australian MP Rebekha Sharkie said counting had slowed after extra safeguards were put in place following the breakdown.
Asked if there was any evidence to corroborate the opposition’s claims, she expressed confidence in the counting process.
The group’s interim report noted that the app was not used to count votes, but only to publish the results.
This article was made possible through the Melbourne Press Club’s Michael Gordon Journalism Fellowship Programme.