THE 2013 Constitution is the first for Fiji that meets the standards of the world's great democracies and join in their ranks.
In his address during the Presidential assent to the 2013 Constitution, Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said Fiji had a Constitution that met the test of a genuine democracy and upheld the legal and moral basis of a common and equal citizenry without losing individuality or culture.
"Its taken us 43 years and three Constitutions to get here. But now, finally, its happened. And it's cause for immense celebrations," Commodore Bainimarama said.
He said many modern and stable democracies had gone through their own turbulent periods.
"Some have gone through decades of instability and bloodshed, while others have had a single defining moment. These events changed the course of history. They turned their countries from bastions of elitism and oppression into nations of freedom, equality and true democracy."
He said the US had its Bunker Hill and Civil War, France had the storming of the Bastille and the French revolution, Australia, the Eureka Stockade and Britain a bloody history to establish constitutional monarchy.
"We Fijians too have had our period of turbulence our catharsis. Today, however, marks our new beginning. Today, we launch the blueprint for our genuine democracy."
He said the 2013 Constitution enshrined principles that were at the heart of all the great liberal democracies, an independent judiciary, a secular state and a wide range of civil, political and socio-economic rights.
"Our three previous constitutions — in 1970, 1990 and 1997 — failed the basic test of genuine democracy.
"They enshrined the notion that the votes of some people in Fiji were worth more than others, that some people deserved more rights than others.
"That in order to possess a right, you had to take it away from others."
He said the old constitutions highlighted differences rather than commonalities.