Fiji PM Angers Methodist Church By Saying It Was 'Mouthpiece' Of SODELPA

General Secretary says church is politically neutral 

By Nasik Swami

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, April 25, 2017) – The Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma is "very disappointed" by the comments made by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama in Parliament yesterday that the religious body was a campaign mouthpiece for the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA).

In an interview last night, church general secretary Reverend Epineri Vakadewavosa said the church leaders would see the Prime Minister and "sort things" out over comments he had made.

Mr Vakadewavosa said the church was neutral and not a mouthpiece for SODELPA.

"The Methodist Church is a neutral organisation, biggest religious organisation in the country, and we were very sad with what had transpired with the program (Parliament sitting)," he said.

He said the church was not for any political party.

"Many members of the Methodist Church are members of the FijiFirst party, National Federation Party, Fiji Labour Party and SODELPA so it's a neutral organisation."

Mr Vakadewavosa said a group representing the church made submissions to the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs on the village bylaws and he was not aware of any other issues that were discussed.

Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa called on the PM to acquaint himself with the United Nations Charter on Human Rights Article 18 and 20, which guaranteed the freedom of religion and the freedom of political affiliation.

"The PM, who frequently goes to New York should grab a copy of the charter and acquaint himself with the important information on the charter, then he won't come up with remarks like that," she said.

Ro Teimumu said it was unfortunate for the PM to strike a low blow against those who had no representatives in Parliament, like the Methodist Church.

"It's unfortunate for the PM to make such remarks when he has no proof," she said.

Mr Bainimarama told Parliament that the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma was a campaign mouth for SODELPA while responding to a question by SODELPA deputy whip, Mosese Bulitavu for the Parliament to review the 2013 Constitution.

The PM made reference to the submission made by the church last week, talking about the elimination of racial discrimination.

Mr Bainimarama said the church, together with the Opposition, were spreading lies.

Fiji Times Online.
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