Fiji set to change national flag

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama Tuesday said the country is set to change its national flag as its colonial symbols are no longer relevant.

IANS| Updated: Feb 03, 2015, 13:52 PM IST

Suva: Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama Tuesday said the country is set to change its national flag as its colonial symbols are no longer relevant.

Bainimarama, who signaled the national flag change plan as early as in his 2013 New Year message, has now officially confirmed and announced the plan, Xinhua reported.

In the past two years, Fijians were consumed with the task of holding "our first genuinely democratic election in Fijian history", Bainimarama said.

"But now that our new democracy is in place, we can proceed with the programme I flagged at the beginning of 2013 to adopt a symbol that is more in keeping with our national aspirations in the 21st century."

"The new flag should reflect Fiji`s position in the world today as a modern and truly independent nation," Bainimarama said.

Fiji was colonised by Britain in 1874 and gained independence Oct 10, 1970.

The Pacific island country`s current national flag incorporates the British Union Jack and a colonial shield and has been used since its independence.

"The Union Flag belongs to the British, not to us. The shield on our flag has the British Lion and the Cross of St. George -- a British patron saint. What does this have to do with us," he asked.

"They are the symbols of the coloniser -- Britain -- a country with whom we are friends and will continue to be so. But they are not symbols that are relevant to any Fijian in the 21st century."

A two-month national flag design competition will begin later this month, and the National Panel of citizens, members of which chosen from a broad cross section of Fijian society, will judge the entries and choose the most appropriate design, the prime minister added.

The Pacific island country is expected to hoist the new national flag on Oct 10, 2015, the 45th anniversary of its independence.