Fiji's ex-PM Bainimarama bailed after court appearance

Fiji's former long-serving prime minister Frank Bainimarama has pleaded not guilty in a Suva court after being charged with abuse of office and held in police custody overnight.

Fiji's Director of Public Prosecutions Christopher Pryde approved the charges of abuse of office against Bainimarama and suspended police commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho.

Bainimarama, who led the Pacific island nation for 16 years until narrowly losing an election in December, rejected the charge when he appeared in court on Friday.

The magistrate granted him and Qiliho bail and ordered them not to leave the country, the Office of the Director of Prosecutions said in a statement.

The charge relates 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.

"I served as Fiji's prime minister with integrity and with the best interest of Fijians at heart," Bainimarama said outside court, according to video taken by Fijian media outlets.

"I am going to fight this charge not only for my own reputation but for democracy, all Fijians, and of course for the constitution."

Qiliho was not immediately available for comment.

Bainimarama resigned from parliament on Wednesday after being suspended last month for sedition and insulting the president.