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The History of Fiji 2000 Coup and Constitutional Crisis

The History of Fiji 2000 Coup and Constitutional Crisis

The 2000 Fijian coup and constitutional crisis were significant events in the history of Fiji that unfolded against a backdrop of ethnic tensions and political instability. Here’s a detailed overview of the key events during this period:


Fiji has a history of ethnic tension between the indigenous Fijian population and the Indo-Fijian community, which traces its roots to indentured laborers brought to Fiji during British colonial rule.

George Speight’s Coup (May 19, 2000)

  • On May 19, 2000, a group led by George Speight, a businessman and nationalist, seized the Fijian Parliament, taking hostage Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and several members of his government.
  • The coup was motivated by nationalist sentiments, including opposition to the perceived dominance of Indo-Fijians in politics and concerns about land rights.

Declaration of the Republic of Fiji (May 29, 2000)

George Speight declared Fiji a republic, abolishing the 1997 constitution and removing the British monarch as the head of state.

Interim Military Government

  • Following the coup, the military, led by Commodore Frank Bainimarama, took control of the government in an interim capacity.
  • The military leadership opposed Speight’s actions and sought to restore constitutional order.

Negotiations and International Response

  • Negotiations were attempted to resolve the crisis peacefully, but they were largely unsuccessful.
  • The international community, including the Commonwealth and Australia, condemned the coup and imposed sanctions on Fiji.

Abrogation of the Constitution (July 2000)

  • In July 2000, the military, under Commodore Bainimarama, abrogated the constitution and took direct control of the government.
  • President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara resigned, and the military leadership assumed executive authority.

Restoration of Constitutional Order (2001)

  • After a period of military rule, efforts were made to establish a civilian government and restore constitutional order.
  • In 2001, Laisenia Qarase became the interim Prime Minister, leading to a return to parliamentary governance.

Constitutional Reforms (2013)

  • In 2013, a new constitution was adopted, providing for a parliamentary democracy.
  • The constitution aimed at addressing issues of ethnic tension and ensuring inclusivity in the political system.

The 2000 coup and its aftermath had profound implications for Fiji, affecting its political landscape and relations with the international community. The events of 2000 highlighted the challenges of managing ethnic diversity in the country and underscored the importance of inclusive governance.

The history of Fiji’s 2013 Constitution and subsequent elections marked a crucial period in the country’s political development, following years of political instability and a coup in 2006. Here’s a detailed overview of these events:


Fiji had experienced political instability and multiple coups in the years leading up to 2013, including the 2000 coup led by George Speight and the 2006 coup led by Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

2006 Coup and Interim Government

  • In 2006, Commodore Frank Bainimarama led a coup, taking control of the government and dissolving the existing constitution.
  • The military-led interim government ruled until the adoption of the new constitution in 2013.

Constitutional Development

  • In 2012, a Constitutional Commission was established to draft a new constitution for Fiji.
  • The process involved extensive public consultations to ensure a more inclusive and participatory approach compared to previous attempts.

2013 Constitution

  • The new constitution was promulgated on September 6, 2013, and it came into effect on September 7, 2013.
  • The constitution provided for a parliamentary democracy with a president as the head of state and a prime minister as the head of government.
  • – It included provisions to address issues of ethnic tension, promote human rights, and establish an independent judiciary.

Elections in 2014

  • In accordance with the new constitution, elections were held in September 2014, marking the return to democratic governance.
  • Political parties, including the FijiFirst Party led by Commodore Frank Bainimarama, participated in the elections.
  • Bainimarama’s FijiFirst Party won a majority of seats, and he became the Prime Minister.

Reconciliation and Unity

  • The new government emphasized reconciliation and unity among the various ethnic and religious communities in Fiji.
  • Efforts were made to move past historical grievances and build a more inclusive and harmonious society.

International Recognition

  • The 2014 elections and the subsequent establishment of a democratically elected government led to the restoration of Fiji’s international standing.
  • The international community, including the Commonwealth, welcomed Fiji back into the fold of democratic nations.

Subsequent Elections

  • Fiji has held subsequent elections, with the FijiFirst Party maintaining its position as the ruling party.
  • The electoral processes have generally been considered free and fair.

The adoption of the 2013 Constitution and the subsequent elections marked a turning point in Fiji’s political landscape, moving the country toward democratic governance after years of instability. The constitution aimed to address historical issues and promote inclusivity, and the elections were a critical step in the nation’s return to democratic norms.

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