FIJI METHODISTS BACK DOWN IN GOVERNMENT FACEOFF

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Olive branch offered to respect Bainimarama’s ban

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, August 3, 2009) – The Methodist church has offered an olive branch to the State in a bid to be part of nation building.

After weeks of defiance against the State's decision not to allow the annual conference in Rewa next month, the church backed down, saying it would respect the ban and hoped to be included in restoration plans for peace and unity for everyone.

Assistant general secretary Reverend Tevita Banivanua said the church was now focussed on reconciliation, an ongoing process that started with requests for apologies for events the church witnessed in 1989.

"The reconciliation process has already started and is ongoing. It started with our former presidents," Mr. Banivanua said.

"We wanted to clean our house first," he said.

Banivanua said following its cordial meeting with State officials on Tuesday, there were positive indications that there were doors open for more dialogue to heal their relationship.

He said that was a good step and requests had been made to the State to allow the church to be involved in the process of restoration and reconciliation.

"We thank him (Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama) for those open doors," Banivanua said.

On Saturday, Banivanua was part of an 11 men delegation, led by former church president Reverend Laisiasa Ratabacaca, to the vanua of Rewa to announce the cancellation of the 2009 annual conference.

He had said the current 32-member standing committee would be expanded to include the heads of the 53 divisions of the church to discuss issues usually tabled at annual conferences.

Banivanua said work towards expanding the committee would begin immediately after he officially convey the outcome of the meeting on Saturday at Lomanikoro to church president Reverend Ame Tugaue and general secretary Reverend Tuikilakila today.

The new expanded committee will meet on the scheduled days of the annual conference this month.

 

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