General elections were held in Fiji between 4 and 11 April 1987. It was historic in that it marked the first electoral transition of power in Fijian history. The Alliance Party (Fiji) of the longtime Prime Minister, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, was defeated by a multiracial coalition, consisting of the Fiji Labour Party (contesting the election for the first time), the Indo-Fijian-dominated National Federation Party, and two smaller parties, the Western United Front and the Fiji Nationalist Party. In the House of Representatives, the coalition won a total of 28 seats to the Alliance's 24, and Dr Timoci Bavadra, the leader of the coalition, became Prime Minister.
Bavadra's 28 member Parliamentary caucus included only 7 ethnic Fijians, all of them elected with predominantly Indo-Fijian support from "national" as opposed to "communal" electorates. (Fiji then had a complex voting system, allocating ethnic Fijians and Indo-Fijians 22 seats each, with a further 8 reserved for Europeans, Chinese, and other minorities. 12 of the representatives for both indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians group represented "communal" constituencies, elected from closed electoral rolls, while the other 10 represented "national" constituencies, elected by universal suffrage; the 8 minority seats comprised 3 communal and 5 national constituencies). Only six ethnic Fijians, including Dr Bavadra, were appointed to the new cabinet, as opposed to seven Into-Fijians and minority representative. Effective Indo-Fijian domination of the government caused widespread resentment among the ethnic Fijian community, and after less than a month in office, the new government was deposed in on 14 May 1987 in a coup d'état led by Lieutenant-Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka.