2 Jan 2013

New constitution for Fiji promised by March

6:06 am on 2 January 2013

Fiji military coup leader Frank Bainimarama has announced a new constitution will be ready within three months.

In an address to the nation on New Year's Day, Commodore Bainimarama also said Fiji would get a new flag to "reinforce a new Fijian identity",

The current flag features the red, white and blue Union Jack of Britain in the top left-hand corner with the shield from the Fiji coat of arms on the right side.

Fiji has already removed the image of the Queen from its currency.

Commodore Bainimarama tore up the previous constitution in 2009, three years after seizing power.

"The new, modern and enduring constitution will be ready by the end of the first quarter of 2013," he said, adding this would "set the scene" for the 2014 elections.

"(It will be) a constitution that must ensure common and equal citizenry and a constitution that must ensure that any representatives of the people in the new parliament must be elected under the principle of one person, one vote and one value."

Fiji was suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum after he scrapped the previous constitution and replaced all judges with hand-picked officials.

He rejected all pressure for an early return to democracy, saying the new constitution needed to be in place first.

A draft of what will be Fiji's fourth charter is currently with President Epeli Nailatikau before being reviewed by a special assembly.