SUVA, Fiji Islands (September 10, 2001 – BBC)---Laisenia Qarase has been sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Fiji.

His appointment follows Fiji's first elections since its last democratic leader, ethnic Indian Mahendra Chaudhry, was ousted by an indigenous civilian coup 15 months ago.

Mr. Qarase was sworn in at a ceremony in the capital, Suva, conducted by President Ratu Josefa Iloilo.

For the time being the new Prime Minister has no government.

His nationalist Fijian People's Party won the most seats in the election -- 31 of 71 -- but failed to secure an absolute majority.

It is still unclear who his coalition partners will be.

The balance of power in Parliament is held by a small group of moderates and ultra-nationalists.

Mr. Qarase is the Fiji's government’s third prime minister in two turbulent years. His campaign was based on enhancing indigenous rights at the expense of the Indo-Fijian community.

For additional reports from the BBC, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/BBC News: Asia-Pacific.

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