FIJI REGIME CANCELS METHODIST ANNUAL MEETING

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Church rejects demand that leaders not conduct sessions

By Farzana Nisha SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Aug. 22, 2011) –The Methodist Church annual conference scheduled to start tomorrow has been cancelled by the Fiji government.

Speaking to FijiLive, Lt Colonel Neumi Leweni said the church senior officials have not been abiding by the permit conditions.

"Let’s leave it at that for now," he said.

The meeting was to be held at the Centenary Church in Suva.

[PIR editor’s note: Radio New Zealand International reports that the church remains hopeful of conducting the meeting tomorrow as planned: The regime had banned the last two annual conferences but gave the go ahead for a three day event this week in Suva if the church avoided commenting on political issues. In the lead up, Methodist officials had met several times to consider a directive from Commodore Bainimarama that its leaders not conduct any of the sessions at the conference. The church spokesperson, the reverend Tevita Banivanua, says (church) officials rejected this, saying its constitution is paramount. But he says they still hope to hold the event. "We are hoping that you know they can just give us some more time to explain our selves - I don’t know whether they will accept that or not." Reverend Tevita Banivanua also says politics is part and parcel of the work of a church and can’t be ignored as demanded by the interim regime. He says the church can’t ignore politics when a key focus of its work is dealing with social issues such as poverty.]

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