FIJI EXTENDS BAN ON METHODIST CHURCH MEETINGS

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Bainimarama wants to limit church’s political activity

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Feb. 2, 2010) - The Fiji government has extended a ban on the Methodist Church’s annual conference to its divisional and quarterly meetings.

Government spokesman and permanent secretary for Information, Lieutenant-Colonel Neumi Leweni said the decision was made following a meeting between a church delegation and Commissioner of Police, Commodore Esala Teleni this week.

Lt-Col Leweni said the only meeting that the church is now allowed to hold is its monthly meeting, which he said specifically focuses on the spiritual development of the church.

"Meetings to do with issues other than the spiritual development are being suspended as of today," he said.

Lt-Col Leweni said government remains firm that the church should focus on the spiritual development of its members and not be involved in politics.

Church executives had sought a meeting with Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama following his decision last month to extend an initial ban on last year’s annual Methodist conference to 2014.

Bainimarama had said the ban was caused by the church’s continuous inclusion of political items on the agenda of its meetings when the government wanted the institution to become free of politics.

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