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Fiji dumps Queen's birthday holiday

01 august 2012, 15:14
Fiji's military regime has dumped Queen Elizabeth II's official birthday from its list of annual public holidays, saying it is no longer relevant to the former British colony, AFP reports.

The government of military ruler Voreqe Bainimarama, who seized power in a 2006 coup, said Tuesday that dropping Queen's birthday from the calendar would also boost economic productivity in the South Pacific nation.

"The Queen's birthday's importance disappeared from Fiji when we became a republic and now our status is an independent nation," Labour ministry spokesman Jone Usamate told AFP Wednesday.

"There is a focus on more productivity and growth, so as a result the decision was made to cut down on the number of holidays in Fiji, as holidays can be a burden on business and government."

The move to ditch the holiday, normally celebrated in early June, came after Fiji announced last year that it was dropping the Queen's likeness from its coins and replacing it with local flora and fauna.

Fiji became independent from Britain in 1970 and was declared a republic in 1987, after the second of the four military coups the country has experienced in the past three decades.

The Queen's birthday is still a public holiday in many other former British colonies such as Australia and New Zealand, although not in Britain itself.

Britain supported Fiji's suspension from the Commonwealth in 2009 after Bainimarama's government broke a promise to hold elections in the wake of his 2006 coup. Elections are now scheduled for 2014.

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