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» » Fiji Remembers 46 years of Independence

Fiji’s 46th Independence Day celebrations is to be held on the iconic grounds of the Albert Park, refurbished to reflect the country’s achievements and aspirations. Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama identified that “over the years, countless Fijians have walked this ground or played on this ground. Whether it is the sporting events that have always taken place here or the Hibiscus Festival held here from 1956 until just a couple of years ago. He also said that “countless numbers of Fijians over the years have also been present to witness the great occasions of State and the military parades that are a treasured part of our national life. The anniversary of Cession Day before 1970 and Independence Day since” (IFijiSun, 9 September 2016).

How Fiji Attained its Independence

A constitutional conference was held in London in July 1965, to discuss constitutional changes with a view to introducing responsible government. Indo-Fijians, led by A. D. Patel, demanded the immediate introduction of full self-government, with a fully elected legislature, to be elected by universal suffrage on a common voters' roll. The British made it clear, however, that they were determined to bring Fiji to self-government and eventual independence. Despite rejection from the ethnic Fijian delegation, who still feared loss of control over natively owned land and resources should an Indo-Fijian dominated government come to power, the independence pushed through.

A cabinet system of government was established in 1967, then after three years to a second constitutional conference in London, in April 1970, at which Fiji's Legislative Council agreed on a compromise electoral formula and a timetable for independence as a fully sovereign an independent nation with the Commonwealth. The Legislative Council would be replaced with a bicameral Parliament, with a Senate dominated by Fijian chiefs and a popularly elected House of Representatives. In the 52-member House, Native Fijians and Indo-Fijians would each be allocated 22 seats, of which 12 would represent Communal constituencies comprising voters registered on strictly ethnic roles, and another 10 representing National constituencies to which members were allocated by ethnicity but elected by universal suffrage. A further 8 seats were reserved for "General electors" - Europeans, Chinese, Banaban Islanders, and other minorities; 3 of these were "communal" and 5 "national." With this compromise, Fiji became independent on October 10, 1970.

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