Aug. 22, 2013, midnight
Government officials in Fiji have released the final version of the country’s new constitution. Following a 2006 coup d’état that toppled the government of Prime Minister Laisenia QARASE, the country has been ruled by Commodore Josaia Voreqe BAINIMARAMA. The previous constitution of Fiji, which was adopted in 1997, was abrogated in July 2009 by Commodore BAINIMARAMA, with the promise of a new constitution by 2013. The new constitution will have a major impact on forthcoming elections in Fiji. Previously, Fiji had a bicameral Parliament with a 32-seat Senate and 71-seat House of Representatives. In the House of Representatives, every Fijian citizen would cast two votes, one in an open constituency, and one in communal constituencies, which were drawn along ethnic lines. The old Parliament is being replaced with a unicameral Parliament, which will consist of 50 members. Elections will be contested on the concept of one person, one vote. The election will occur in one nationwide constituency, with seats being filled through proportional representation. Following the election, the leader of the party receiving the most votes will become Prime Minister. The new constitution is expected to come into force on September 6, 2013, following the assent of President Ratu Epeli NAILATIKAU, paving the way for parliamentary elections by September 30, 2014.