PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT
Pacific Islands Development Program/East-West Center
METHODIST CHURCH REJECTS FIJI REGIME’S DEMANDS
SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, June 5, 2009) – The Methodist Church says it will not give in to Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama’s demands to sack two of its former presidents in an apparent bid to rid the church off "politics".
Church general secretary Reverend Tuikilakila Waqairatu told FijiLive the demand to sack Reverend Manasa Lasaro and Reverend Tomasi Kanailagi was put forward by the government yesterday, when both sides met to discuss a compromise to hold a church conference free of political items on the agenda, in August.
Waqairatu said the offence of the ministers had to be known for the church to either sack or excommunicate them.
"Right now we do not believe the ministers have offended. The Prime Minister wants the church not to be involved in politics, however the church’s involvement in politics is for the spiritual and moral aspect of it," said Waqairatu.
"The government has to consider the spirit of love, compassion, morality and responsibility in the direction they move in," he said.
The church has already been warned by the military to abide by the government’s directive not to hold its annual conference in August this year.
The permit for the conference was cancelled at the weekend after the police and the military said items on the conference agenda were political in nature and contravened the existing Public Emergency Regulations.
Waqairatu said the church’s standing committee will meet today to decide on the collection of the soli, financial contributions by the church’s membership, collected annually at the conference, and which helps fund the bulk of the church’s budget every year.
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