Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, former military leader who led a bloodless takeover 12 years ago, favourite to retain office against a fractured opposition.
Heavy rainfall was affecting some voting in Fiji's general election on Wednesday, as two men who led different military coups battled for control of the island nation.
The bad weather prompted the Elections Office to close 17 polling venues, affecting some 6,000 voters, according to the Fiji Times.
Those people would get a chance to vote at a later date, the Times reported.
Elections Supervisor Mohammed Saneem said polling booths in some areas had to be relocated or voting rescheduled to a later date because of the weather.
Nearly 8,000 voters were affected in the nation of roughly 910,000 people, with 26 polling booths at 23 venues closed, Saneem said in a Facebook post.
"I would like to extend sincere gratitude to all those voters who braved the weather and came out to vote to exercise their constitutional right," he said.
Bainimarama poised to win
Opinion polls indicate Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama is poised to win a second term after he first held democratic elections in 2014, eight years after seizing power in a coup.
"I will be disappointed if we lose," said Bainimarama.
Earlier, long queues formed as polling opened in the Pacific island nation's second election since a 2006 military coup.
Bainimarama, the former military leader who led a bloodless takeover 12 years ago, is favourite to retain office against a fractured opposition.
His FijiFirst Party secured a landslide 59 percent when he restored democracy in 2014 and was polling at 68 percent ahead of Wednesday's vote.
The 64-year-old has promised stability and an end to the "coup culture" that saw four governments toppled between 1987 and 2006.
Bainimarama's main rival is another former coup leader, Sitiveni Rabuka of the SODELPA Party, who was only cleared to run in the election on Monday after facing corruption charges that government critics said were politically motivated.
17 venues with 20 polling stations have been closed for polling due to adverse weather conditions, effectively affects 6,094 voters, polling at these locations will commence at a later date ... more with @FBC_News #FijiElections2018 #Fiji we are 3 hours away from polls closing— Jacquee Speight (@JacqueeSpeight) November 14, 2018
FijiFirst's supporters say it has helped heal racial divisions by introducing equal rights for Indian-Fijians, a sizable minority brought in to work on sugar plantations during British colonial rule.
It has also overseen a prosperous period for the tourism-driven economy, which is growing by more than three percent a year.
Initially branded a dictator by regional powers such as Australia and New Zealand, Bainimarama has gained international acceptance since the 2014 election.
He has campaigned on the global stage for climate change action, chairing the UN's COP 23 talks on global warming and highlighting the plight of island nations threatened by rising seas.
However, Amnesty International says Bainimarama's government is yet to fully restore freedoms that were suspended for several years after the 2006 coup.
"Since the last general elections in 2014, the human rights situation in Fijihas remained under attack," it said ahead of the vote, pointing to police brutality, curbs on freedom of assembly and media, as well as persecution of rights advocates.
As #Fiji heads to the polls today, it’s interesting to note that political #elections have been a part of life for at least 3000 years! This ancient coin depicts a Roman citizen (only men were allowed) casting his vote 🗳 pic.twitter.com/AYmVvuudPO— Sanya Ruggiero (@Sanya_Ruggiero) November 14, 2018
SODELPA is the largest of the five opposition parties, winning 28 percent of the vote in 2014.
But observers say internal divisions and a succession of corruption cases against party leaders have rendered opposition to Bainimarama's government largely ineffective.
Jonathan Pryke, an analyst at Sydney-based think-tank the Lowy Institute, said a free and fair election would be a successful result for the nation of 920,000.
"Whatever the outcome, the hope is that political stability survives so the economy can continue to drive better living standards and Fiji can continue to slowly plod towards complete democracy," he wrote.
The winner of the election is not expected to be known for four or five days as votes trickle in from polling stations on the archipelago's more remote islands.