THE final version of the 2013 Constitution that will underpin the first genuine democracy in Fijian history was released to the public yesterday.
The final version differs from the draft constitution by containing specific provisions that guarantees and strengthens the protection of communally-owned iTaukei, Rotuman and Banaban lands.
During the consultation process that followed the release of the draft in March this year, a large number of submissions were received calling for explicit protection clauses.
These have been accepted and incorporated into the final document and they provide greater protection and security for iTaukei, Rotuman and Banaban land than ever before.
President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau will give his assent to the document on September 6.
During a media briefing yesterday, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said this would be the supreme law of the country and would pave the way for elections by September 30 next year.
And this would be conducted, for the first time, on the basis of equal votes of equal value, he said.
He said the document was in line with the constitutions of some of the world's most liberal democracies and provides a framework for the development of a modern, progressive state.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum highlighted that the Constitution provided for a single chamber 50-member Parliament, up from 45 in the draft document, which will be the country's supreme authority and be elected on the basis of one person, one vote, one value.
The new supreme law also states that elections are to be held every four years and every Fijian over the age of 18 is entitled to vote.
In another alteration to the draft document, individual regional constituencies are abolished.
According to Mr Sayed-Khaiyum, there would be one national constituency covering the whole of Fiji, as in the Netherlands and Israel.
He said every voter would get one vote, choosing the candidate who they believed best served their interests under a proportional representation system.
In the Constitution, a party leader who commands the party with the most seats in Parliament will head the elected government and, in line with current practice, a president will be the head of State and perform the ceremonial function of commander-in-chief of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.