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Fiji Index
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Constitutional Background

The new constitution came into force in 1998.  The 1990 Constitution was imposed by the Rabuka regime. It contained discriminating provisions baring Fiji's ethnic Indians from serious political power.

Fiji has compulsory voting according to Section 56.

History and News

  • 1 March 2001: In the Prasad case, a farmer of Indian descent succeeds in obtaining judicial confirmation by the Court of Appeal that the Constitution has not been abrogated by military or government actions following the Speight coup.  The Interim Civilian Government is expected to respect the Court's judgement.
  • 19 May 2000: Civil Coup of George Speight, a failed businessman supported by an army group called Counter-Revolutionary Warfare Squadron, triggers a constitutional crisis.  After the government seizure, Fiji's President Kamisese Mara declares a state of emergency.  The Speight supporters are demanding the abrogation of the Constitution.  The background for the coup are longlasting racial frictions between today's (2000) 44% Indo-Fijians and its 51% ethnic Fijian majority.  The main issue are the Government's plans to provide Indo-Fijian cane farmers with 30-year leases on agricultural lands.
  • 19 May 1999: First elections under the new constitution result in Mahendra Chaudhry, a Fijian of Indian descent, becoming Prime Minister.  The ethnic-Fijian vote becomes divided under the preferential voting based on Australia's system.
  • 28 July 1998: Amended Constitution comes into force.
  • 25 July 1997: Constitution significantly amended.  Though formulated as an amendment, it is actually a new constitution giving both ethnicities equal rights.
  • 1990: Rabuka imposes a Constitution which makes it impossible for Fijian Indians to hold power. 
  • 23 Sep 1988 : Constitution adopted.
  • 1987: Army chief Sitiveni Rabuka stages the first military coup in the Pacific area only about one month after the political power of Timoci Bavadra and Jai Ram Reddy, the spokesman for Fiji's Indians, was established. Rabuka declares Fiji a republic and leaves the Commonwealth.  After a few months of confusion, he mounts a second coup and repeals the constitution.  About 80,000 Indo-Fijians are emigrating, resulting in recession.
  • April 1987: An Indian-based coalition wins power.
  • 10 Oct 1970: Independence from Great Britain.  Ethnic tensions are increasing with Indo-Fijians dominating the economic, educational and health sectors.
  • 1920: In spite of the stop to indentured immigration, free migrant workers keep arriving from India; they are the majority by the mid-60s.
  • 1879: Expanding sugar plantations are causing importation of indentured workers from India.
  • 1874: Fiji's chief George Cakobau cedes sovereignty to Queen Victoria.  The country is mainly populated by indigenous Fijians.

For methodology see: Comparing Constitutions and International Constitutional Law.
© 1994 - December 16th, 2010 / For corrections please contact A. Tschentscher.