Sep 6 2013, 4:17am CDT | by IANS
Suva, Sep 6 — Fijian President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau Friday gave his assent to the country's 2013 constitution through the powers vested in him as head of state, paving the way for the 2014 parliamentary election that the government has pledged to hold.
The new constitution, which replaces the abrogated 1997 Constitution, comes into effect Saturday and will be the supreme law of Fiji, Xinhua reported.
For the first time, aside from English, the Constitution has been published in the two main vernacular languages, i-Taukei (indigenous Fijian) and Hindi, and has been widely distributed and read, said Nailatikau.
The new constitution provides for a single chamber 50-member parliament, which will be the country's supreme authority and be elected on the basis of one person, one vote, one value. Elections are to be held every four years and every Fijian over the age of 18 is entitled to vote.
In line with the constitution, individual regional constituencies are abolished, and there will be one national constituency covering the whole of Fiji. Every voter will get one vote, choosing the candidate who they believe best serves their interests under a proportional representation system.
The prime minister, who commands the party with the most seats in parliament, will head the elected government and, in line with current practice, the president will be the head of state and perform the ceremonial function of commander-in-chief of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, a naval officer who came to power after a coup in 2006, has said he would form a political party and run for the upcoming parliamentary election, which would be held by Sep 30, 2014.
Ethnic Indians comprise 37 percent of Fiji's population of nearly 870,000.
Most of them are descendants of indentured labourers who were brought in from India between 1879 and 1916 to work in the country's sugarcane plantations.
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