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Fiji has had four constitutions:
The 1997 Constitution of Fiji was the supreme law of Fiji from its adoption in 1997 until 2009 when President Josefa Iloilo purported to abrogate it. It was also suspended for a period following the 2000 coup d'état led by George Speight.
Fiji's fourth constitution was signed into law by President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau on September 6, 2013, coming into effect immediately. It is the first to eliminate race-based electoral rolls, race-based seat quotas, district-based representation, the unelected upper chamber, and the role of the hereditary Council of Chiefs. It vests sole legislative authority in a single-chamber, 50-seat, at-large Parliament, to be first convened following general elections in 2014. It is also the first ever to grant the right to multiple citizenship, and lowers the voting age to 18.
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Fiji, officially the Republic of Fiji, is an island country in Melanesia, part of Oceania in the South Pacific Ocean about 1,100 nautical miles northeast of New Zealand's North Island. Its closest neighbours are Vanuatu to the west, New Caledonia to the southwest, New Zealand's Kermadec Islands to the southeast, Tonga to the east, the Samoas and France's Wallis and Futuna to the northeast, and Tuvalu to the north. Fiji consists of an archipelago of more than 330 islands—of which 110 are permanently inhabited—and more than 500 islets, amounting to a total land area of about 18,300 square kilometres (7,100 sq mi). The most outlying island is Ono-i-Lau. The two major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, account for 87% of the total population of 898,760. The capital, Suva, on Viti Levu, serves as the country's principal cruise-ship port. About three-quarters of Fijians live on Viti Levu's coasts, either in Suva or in smaller urban centres such as Nadi—where tourism is the major local industry—or Lautoka, where the sugar-cane industry is paramount. Due to its terrain, the interior of Viti Levu is sparsely inhabited.
Politics of Fiji take place within the framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic. Fiji has a multiparty system with the Prime Minister of Fiji as head of government. The executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Parliament of Fiji. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
The House of Representatives was the lower chamber of Fiji's Parliament from 1970 to 2006. It was the more powerful of the two chambers; it alone had the power to initiate legislation. The House of Representatives also had much greater jurisdiction over financial bills; the Senate could not amend them, although it might veto them. Except in the case of amendments to the Constitution, over which a veto of the Senate was absolute, the House of Representatives might override a Senatorial veto by passing the same bill a second time, in the parliamentary session immediately following the one in which it was rejected by the Senate, after a minimum period of six months.
The President of the Republic of Fiji is the head of state of Fiji. The President is appointed by the Parliament of Fiji for a three-year term under the terms of the 2013 Constitution of Fiji. Although not entirely a figurehead, the President's role in government is mostly ceremonial, but there are important reserve powers that may be exercised in the event of a crisis. In addition, the President is Commander-in-Chief of the Military Forces.
The Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji is the head of government of Fiji. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President under the terms of the 2013 Constitution of Fiji.
The Cabinet of Fiji is the Fijian Government's body of Ministers. It is appointed by the Prime Minister of Fiji and responsible to the Parliament of Fiji. The Cabinet's constitutional basis is sections 90 to 96 of the 2013 Constitution of Fiji.
The Great Council of Chiefs (Bose Levu Vakaturaga in Fijian, ग्रेट काउंसिल ऑफ चीफ्स in Fiji Hindi) was a constitutional body in the Republic of the Fiji Islands from 1876 to March 2012. In April 2007 the council was suspended, due to an unworkable relationship with Frank Bainimarama, leader of an "interim government" which came to power through military coup in December 2006. It was formally disestablished by decree in March 2012.
The Fijian coups of 1987 resulted in the overthrow of the elected government of Fijian Prime Minister Timoci Bavadra, the deposition of Elizabeth II as Queen of Fiji, and in the declaration of a republic. The first coup, in which Bavadra was deposed, took place on 14 May 1987; a second coup on 28 September ended the monarchy, and was shortly followed by the proclamation of a republic on 7 October. Both military actions were led by Lieutenant Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka, then third in command of the Royal Fiji Military Forces. Depending on perspective, one may view the event either as two successive coups d'état separated by a four-month intermission, or as a single coup begun on 14 May and completed with the declaration of the republic.
Fijians are a nation and ethnic group native to Fiji, who speak Fijian and share a common history and culture.
The Parliament of Fiji is the unicameral legislature of the Republic of Fiji. It consists of 51 members elected every 4 years using open-list proportional representation in one multi-member nationwide constituency.
The position of the Vice-President of the Republic of Fiji was created in 1990, to provide a constitutional successor to the President of Fiji, in the event of the latter's death or resignation, or of his otherwise being unable to carry out his duties. The Vice-President's role in government was mostly ceremonial.
The High Court of Fiji is one of three courts that was established by Chapter 9 of the 1997 Constitution of Fiji — the others being the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. The Constitution empowered Parliament to create other courts; these were to be subordinate to the High Court, which was authorized to oversee all proceedings of such courts. The High Court had unlimited original jurisdiction to hear and determine any civil or criminal proceedings under any law and such other original jurisdiction as is conferred on it under the Constitution.
Communal constituencies were the most durable feature of the Fijian electoral system. In communal constituencies, electors enrolled as ethnic Fijians, Indo-Fijians, Rotuman Islanders, or General electors vote for a candidate of their own respective ethnic groups, in constituencies that have been reserved by ethnicity. Other methods of choosing parliamentarians came and went, but this feature was a constant until their final abolition in the 2013 Constitution.
Fiji's chief governmental legal officer is the Attorney General. The office is usually held by the Minister for Justice, although they are distinct offices. Like other members of the Fijian Cabinet, the Attorney-General is appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister.
The Supreme Court of Fiji is one of three courts established by now-defunct Chapter 9 of the Constitution, the others being the High Court and the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court is declared to be "the final appellate court of the State" – in other words, there is no judicial authority higher than the Supreme Court. In this respect, the Supreme Court takes over the functions formerly performed by the United Kingdom's Judicial Committee of the Privy Council before Fiji became a republic in 1987.
The Court of Appeal of Fiji is one of three courts that were established by Chapter 9 of the 1997 Constitution, the others being the High Court and the Supreme Court. The Court of Appeal was a new institution established when the 1997 Constitution came into effect; the other two courts predated it. The Constitution authorizes the Court of Appeal "to hear and determine appeals" from all judgements of the High Court. From time to time, other powers may be assigned to this court by law.
Fiji has three official languages under the 1997 constitution : English, Fijian and Hindi. Fijian is spoken either as a first or second language by most indigenous Fijians who make up around 54% of the population.
Fiji is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean with a population of approximately 849,000. It is made up of Fijians, Indo-Fijians, Europeans, Chinese, other Pacific islanders, and people of mixed racial descent. Fiji has been in a state of political unrest since their independence from Britain in 1970.