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Ex-Fiji leader Bainimarama charged with abuse of office

Fiji's former prime minister Frank Bainimarama, who led the Pacific island nation for 16 years until narrowly losing an election in December, has been charged with abuse of office.

Fiji's Director of Public Prosecutions, Christopher Pryde, has sanctioned charges of abuse of office against Bainimarama and suspended police commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho, a statement from the public prosecutor said on Thursday.

The charges relate to a complaint by the University of South Pacific in 2019 that the two had terminated "an active police investigation" into the activities of former staff members of the university.

The chief of intelligence for Fiji Police, Sakeo Raikaci, said in a livestreamed news conference Bainimarama and Qiliho were being held in custody overnight at a police station and would appear in court on Friday.

Bainimarama, who could not be immediately reached by Reuters for comment, resigned from parliament on Wednesday. His party Fiji First declined to comment.

Bainimarama was suspended from Fiji's parliament last month for sedition and insulting the president.

In a Facebook post announcing his resignation on Wednesday, Bainimarama said it was "unjustified" he had been suspended for three years, and accused the coalition government of breaching the nation's constitution.