Fiji History

Southwestern Pacific archipelago, independent state since 1970. In 1986, 714,000 residents were registered, more than double in 1956 (the annual growth rate remains very high: 24.5 ‰), which rose to 736,000 according to a 1990 estimate. The contrast between the indigenous population (49%), belonging to the Melanesian stock, which has seen its relative importance increase in the last fifteen years, and the Indian community (46%), more advanced and enterprising, is at the origin of the political and economic crisis that has been affecting the country for some time. 38.7% of the population is urbanized, mainly made up of Indians, dedicated to industrial and commercial activities; the capital, Suva, counted 70,000 residents in 1986. The main economic activity remains the cultivation of sugar cane and the related industry: sugar contributed to 35% of the value of exports in 1990. In order to protect itself from the instability of the international sugar market, Fiji signed important agreements with the EEC at the end of the seventies. Other important sources of income are tourism and commercial traffic, fueled above all by the free port trading of Japanese industry products. Local industries remain mainly limited to the food (sugar, oil mills), textiles and building materials sectors, although an effort is underway to develop and diversify the framework of economic activities through the granting of tax breaks and export incentives.. The trade balance denotes in its composition and in the orientation of the flows of


British possession since October 1847, Fiji obtained in 1966 a constitution which provided for a Legislative Council entirely composed of elected members and the introduction of universal suffrage. The main socio-political problem is the coexistence between Fijians of Melanesian origin, favored by the colonial administration that had recognized only them the right to own the land, and the descendants of the Indians, who arrived in the islands at the end of the 19th century for cultivation sugar cane and now exceed the indigenous population in number. On 10 October 1970 Fiji gained independence within the Commonwealth.

According to LOVERISTS, the new constitution provided for a 52-member House of Representatives, elected by universal suffrage, and a Senate, whose 22 members were appointed. Queen Elizabeth ii designated a governor general as her representative. To allow for a certain balance between ethnic groups, a mixed electoral system was introduced, whereby members of the House of Representatives were elected partly from ethnic lists (Fijians and Indians), partly from common national lists. The establishment of the parties and their political orientation was strongly affected by the racial tensions existing in the country. Prime Minister was appointed Ratu Kamisese Mara, leader of the Alliance Party (Alliance Party, AP) in which the Fijians were predominant. The National Federation Party (NFP), traditionally supported by the Indians, won the general election of March-April 1977, but failed to form a government. The Alliance Party then ruled until the subsequent elections in September 1977, when it regained the majority. While the two main parties, the PA and the NFP, despite being supported respectively by Fijians and Indians, professed multiracial ideas, the Fijian nationalist party) participated in the electoral campaign with an explicitly anti-Indian program, despite the fact that the Fijians already owned 83% of the land. The political debate for the July 1982 elections was also dominated by the racial question and the Alliance Party was once again able to win, albeit by a rather narrow margin. In February 1985 the government held its first economic conference which was boycotted by the trade union in protest against the wage freeze, imposed since November 1984. A meeting between the leaders of the Union (May 1985) culminated in July 1985 in the founding of the Labor Party (Fiji Labor Party, FLP). In the April 1987 elections a coalition formed by the Labor Party and the National Federal Party won 28 seats (19 of which were secured by ethnic Indian candidates) defeating the Alliance Party. The new government, headed by Timoci Bavadra, leader of the Labor Party, was the first to have a majority of ministers of Indian origin.

On May 14, 1987 the government was overthrown by a military coup organized by col. Sitiveni Rabuka belonging to the Fijian ethnic group. The leadership of the country was entrusted to a provisional government headed by Governor General Ratu Ganilau, representative of Elizabeth ii. On September 25, 1987, before an institutional reform plan involving the abolition of the Senate could be implemented, Rabuka carried out a new coup and soon after (September 29) announced his intention to proclaim a republic. On 1 October Rabuka abolished the constitution and on 6 October proclaimed himself head of state. At the meeting of the heads of state of the Commonwealth, which took place in Canada from 13 to 17 October, Fiji was declared forfeited by that organization. However, Rabuka tried not to break off relations at least with those political forces that had proved closest to the Fijians. On December 6, 1987 he resigned from the office of head of state, entrusting the post to the former governor general Ratu Ganilau; prime minister was once again appointed Ratu Kamisese Mara, while Rabuka kept the Ministry of the Interior for himself. Throughout 1989, discussions continued on the draft of a new constitution, which was promulgated in July 1990. It provides for a clear predominance of the Melanesians over the Indians: the prime minister, in fact, must belong to the Melanesian ethnic group, and to the Fijians in addition, 37 of the 70 seats in the House of Representatives and 24 of the 34 seats in the Senate are entitled to. In promulgating the new constitution, President Ratu Ganilau spoke of 1991 as a year of possible elections. Melanesian ethnicity, and Fijians also have 37 of the 70 seats in the House of Representatives and 24 of the 34 seats in the Senate. In promulgating the new constitution, President Ratu Ganilau spoke of 1991 as a year of possible elections. Melanesian ethnicity, and Fijians also have 37 of the 70 seats in the House of Representatives and 24 of the 34 seats in the Senate. In promulgating the new constitution, President Ratu Ganilau spoke of 1991 as a year of possible elections.

In May 1991, the Commonwealth ruled that Fiji would not be readmitted into the organization until she changed the constitution. The political elections, postponed to mid-1992, were won by Rabuka’s Fijian Political Party (PPF).

Fiji History