Fiji to change national flag to get rid of colonial symbols

Fiji PM says the new flag should reflect Fiji’s position in the world as a modern and truly independent nation state

Fiji is to remove the UK’s union jack from its flag, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has announced.

Mr Bainimarama, a former coup leader who was elected last year in Fiji’s first elections in eight years, said it was “time to dispense with the colonial symbols”.

Fijian prime minister Frank Bainimarama has announced his nation will change its flag and dispense with its colonial symbols, making it more relevant to every Fijian.

Mr Bainimarama made the announcement while opening the Legal Aid Commission’s Office in Nasinu, the nation’s most populated municipality.

The Commonwealth Pacific nation gained independence from Britain in 1970.

He said now that Fiji’s new democracy was in place, his nation could proceed with the program he flagged in 2013, to adopt a symbol more in keeping with its national aspirations in the 21st century.

Fiji held its first democratic election in September last year, following a bloodless coup in 2006.

“The existing flag is widely loved and admired and I want to stress that this initiative is in no way a repudiation of it or the warm sentiments we all feel whenever it is raised,” he said. “It has served us well since it was introduced at Independence in 1970.”

The current Fiji flag is light blue with the union jack – also known as the union flag – and a shield with the cross of St George and a lion. It also features a sugar cane, bananas, a palm tree and a dove of peace.

“We need to replace the symbols on our existing flag that are out of date and no longer relevant, including some anchored to our colonial past,” Mr Bainimarama said.

“The new flag should reflect Fiji’s position in the world today as a modern and truly independent nation state.”

The new flag is expected to be ready by the 45th anniversary of Fiji’s Independence, on October 10, after a national competition, Mr Bainimarama said.

All Fijians, including school children, were encouraged to enter a competition for the design of their nation’s new flag.

Apart from Britain, only three of the other 53 Commonwealth members incorporate the Union Jack in their flag (New Zealand, Fiji and Tuvalu). Several former British colonies have changed their flags.

New Zealand, which also has the symbol on its flag, will hold a referendum on whether to change it in 2016.

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