Government

Fiji Islands’ military regime was suspended from the councils of the Commonwealth on 8 December 2006, pending restoration of democracy and the rule of law in the country. 

Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group unanimously condemns military takeover of Fiji’s democratically-elected government. 

According to the constitution, Fiji is a parliamentary democracy with a president as head of state and a prime minister as head of government.

Fiji’s constitution has always reflected the multi-racial and multi-ethnic nature of its society. The legislature is bicameral, consisting of an elected House of Representatives and an appointed Senate. Some seats in the House of Representatives are reserved for ethnic Fijians and some for other ethnic groups. Members of the Senate were appointed by the Great Council of Chiefs, the prime minister, the leader of the opposition and the Council of Rotuma.

Following the 1987 coups, Fiji became a republic, with a president appointed for a five year term by the Great Council of Chiefs. The president appoints as prime minister the member of the House of Representatives who commands the support of the majority, usually the leader of the largest party or coalition. The prime minister then forms a government which has executive authority. Constitutional amendments require a 75 per cent majority in both houses.

The 1997 constitution brought out a number of formal changes to the Fijian political system. The number of seats in the House of Representatives was increased to 71, 25 of which were opened to all ethnic groups (elected by universal suffrage) while the remainder were to be elected by separate communal electoral rolls. The premiership, but not the presidency, was opened to all Fijians. Voting became mandatory, and the first-past-the-post system was replaced by an alternative preference system. Parties taking more than ten per cent of the votes in a general election have the right to a number of cabinet posts in proportion to the numbers of votes received.

Justice is delivered by the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the High Court and magistrates’ courts. The entire judiciary was dismissed by the president in April 2009 after the Court of Appeal ruled that the government that came into power in the 2006 coup was illegal.