SUMMARY OF IMPORTANT DATES: 20TH CENTURY FIJI

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Compiled By Dr. Sanjay Ramesh

1914 - Apolosi Nawai establishes the Viti Company. The first indigenous Fijian with a plan to develop a wholly indigenous Fijian commercial enterprise.

1916 - Indentured labour was formally abolished in the colony.

1918 - An epidemic struck Fiji and as a result a number of people lost their lives.

1921 - Indian political activist Manilal Maganlal organized a large-scale strike in Suva by members of Public Works Department and Municipal Workers. At the same time a cane strike was organized by Basist Muni in Western Viti Levu. Both these activists were eventually deported by the colonial government.

1929 - First Fiji Indian members were elected to the Legislative Council. They were Paramand Singh, Pundit Vishnu Deo and James Ramchandar.

1939 - Kisan Sangh was formed by mainly Arya Samaji activists.

1939-1945 - Fiji was at war and Fijian soldiers proved their heroism in the jungles of Solomon Islands.

1940 - Native Land Trust Board is established after consultation between the Great Council of Chiefs and the Colonial Government. The chief mover of this was Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna.

1943 - Cane strike by Maha Sangh. This strike masterminded by A.D. Patel and Rudrananda created a very negative image for Fiji Indians, who were seen as undermining the war effort.

1945 - Fijian Affairs Ordinance is passed.

1959 - A strike by Wholesale and Retail Workers General Union. The strike was led by James Anthony and Apisai Tora and had overt anti-colonial theme.

1960 - Cane strike by the Federation of Cane Growers. In 1960 a total of fourteen industrial disputes were recorded.

1964 - Members of Maha Sangh get together and form the Federation Party. Among the leaders are A. D. Patel, S. M. Koya and James Madhavan.

1966 - Alliance Party is formed by chiefs under the leadership of Ratu Mara.

1966 - The Alliance Party establishes its dominance by winning 22 of the 34 directly elected seats in the Legislative Council.

1968 - Racial tension flare up after a by-election in Indian Communal Seats.

1969 - A. D. Patel passes away and the leadership of the party falls on the shoulders of S. M. Koya.

1970 - On 10th October 1970, Fiji was given independence under a compromise constitution. Under that constitution, Indians and Fijians were allocated 12 communal and 10 national seats each. The General electors were allocated 3 Communal and 5 national seats. In the Senate, the Great Council of Chiefs nominated 8 members; the Prime Minister nominated 7; the opposition nominated 6; and the Council of Rotuma 1.

1972 - The Alliance Party won the election by 33 seats with National Federation Party capturing only 19.

1975 - Rebel Alliance Member of Parliament, Sakeasi Butadroka, formed the Fijian Nationalist Party (FNP).

1977 - The Alliance Government was defeated in June elections by the National Federation Party, which failed to form a government due to factional in-fighting. In September another poll was held and the Alliance was returned to office with a 36 seat majority.

1981 - Chiefs from Western Viti Levu launch the Western United Front (WUF).

1982 - The ABC Four Corners Carroll Report on Fiji caused quite a stir and became a major political tool for the National Federation Party. Despite this, the Alliance spin doctors used the report to the party’s advantage and retained government by 28 seats.

1983 - Cyclone Oscar hits Fiji and rips through Western Viti Levu.

1984 - The Minister of Finance, Mosese Qionibaravi, imposed a wage freeze, which triggered a series of public sector protests.

1985 - The Fiji Labour Party formed.

1986 - The Fiji Labour Party and the National Federation Party form a coalition to fight the April 1987 general elections.

1987 - In the April 1987 elections, the coalition won by 28 seats with Alliance securing only 24. Following the election, Dr. Timoci Bavadra became Fiji’s first commoner Fijian Prime Minister.

1987 - On 14 May, Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka and a group of soldiers abduct and incarcerate members of the government in South Pacific’s first bloodless military coup.

1987 - Sunday ban is imposed after a second military coupon 25 September, 1987.

1987 - In October, Fiji loses its Commonwealth membership.

1987 - A military backed civilian government is sworn in as an interim administration of Fiji.

1988 - A large-scale witch hunt eventuates after illegal weapons are discovered in Fiji. A number of suspects were detained under Internal Security Decree (ISD).

1988 - On 5 October 1988 the President of Fiji Ratu Penaia Ganilau appointed Fiji Constitutional Inquiry and Review Committee under the leadership of Paul Manueli.

1989 - The Manueli Committee presents its report to the President.

1990 - On 25 July 1990 the new racially weighted constitution was promulgated by the President.

1990 - On 24 October 1990, University of the South Pacific Lecturer, Dr. Anirudh Singh, is abducted and tortured by army officers.

1990 - The Soqosoqo-ni-Vakavulewa-ni- Taukei (SVT) Party is formed by the Great Council Chiefs.

1990 - On 3 November, Pro-democracy leader of the Fiji Labour Party, Dr. Timoci Bavadra, passes away.

1991 - All National Congress (ANC) is formed by Apisai Tora.

1992 - The people of Fiji went to the polls for the first time since the coup. SVT won 30 seats, NFP 14 and FLP 13, Fijian Nationalists 5.

1993 - On 14 September 1993, the Terms of Reference for the Review of the 1990 Constitution passes the Parliament.

1993 - On 29 November the Government of Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka falls after seven of its own members voted with the opposition to defeat the 1994 Appropriation Bill.

1994 - On 15 January a new Fijian Association Party is formed and Josevata Kamikamica is elected party leader.

1994 - The people of Fiji went to the polls in February and won 31seats; NFP 20; Fijian Association Party 5; FLP 7; ANC 1; and 1 Independent.

1994 - On 24 June 1994 a Joint Parliamentary Select Committee for Constitution Review is established.

1995 - On 15 March 1995, the President of Fiji formally establishes a three-member Constitution Review Commission (CRC). The three members were Sir Paul Reeves, Tomasi Vakatora and Dr. Brij Lal.

1996 - On 10 September the Constitution Review Commission is tabled in a joint sitting of Parliament.

1997 - On 14 May a Constitution Amendment Bill passes both House with unanimous support.

1997 - On 1 October 1997, Fiji officially re-joins the British Commonwealth.

1998 - In March disgruntled SVT supporters form the Veitokani ni Lewenivanua Vakarisito Party.

1998 - On 4 April the Party of National Unity (PANU) is formed by chiefs and activists from Western Viti Levu.

1999 - From 8-15 May Fiji went to the polls with Fiji Labour Party winning 37 seats, Fijian Association Party 11, PANU 4, SVT 8, Nationalists 1, Christian Democrats 3, General Voters 2.

1999 - On 19 May 1999 Mahendra Chaudhry was sworn in as the first Prime Minister of Fiji of Indo-Fiji Islander origin.

1999 - On 21 May a new cabinet was announced with Fijian Association Party, Party of National Unity and Christian Democratic Party forming a grand coalition government with the Fiji Labour Party.

1999 - On 2 December firebrand politician Sakeasi Butadroka passes away

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