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Design contest for new Fijian flag closes

December 31, 2015 - FIJI

Coup-prone Fiji had planned to fly its redesigned flag on Oct 10 to celebrate the 45th anniversary of its independence from Britain and to proclaim its emergence as a democracy, but the flag flying has been postponed until 2016 so more designs can be considered. The extended design contest closes at the end of 2015.

Former military leader Frank Bainimarama, now Prime Minister, announced the flag change in 2013, and now wants more than the 23 designs already shortlisted to consider. The parliament will make the final selection when it convenes in 2016.

In 2014 Fiji held its first democratic election since the bloodless military coup of 2006, which was the latest of the political upheavals following the Pacific island's independence from Britain in 1970.

The British-led Commonwealth of Nations reinstated Fiji as a full member following the 2014 elections.

Bainimarama explained the flag change as a means of reinforcing "a new Fijian identity and a new confidence in being Fijian on the global stage". The present flag features the British Union Jack, the national flag of the United Kingdom, with the Fiji coat of arms. Fiji's Reserve Bank stripped Queen Elizabeth II from its currency in 2012.

Another British former colony has chosen the same path, a flag change to establish a less British identity. Barring setbacks in the referendum on the change, New Zealand will introduce a new flag design, sans its present Union Jack, in 2016.

Fiji to change its flag, replacing colonial symbols (ABC 3 Feb 2015)

Fiji profile (BBC 26 Sep 2014)

Fiji Flag Change Delayed Another Six Months (Pacific Islands Report 1 Jul 2015)

Date written/update: 2015-09-22