6 Feb 2007

Fiji Methodist Church statement attacks interim administration

9:06 am on 6 February 2007

Fiji's interim prime minister has dismissed a Methodist Church statement attacking his administration and President Iloilo as the work of a few misguided pastors.

But Commodore Frank Bainimarama has warned the church that the military will not take such threats lightly.

His comments came as the general secretary of the Methodist Church, the Rev Ame Tugaue, told Radio Legend that the church's social services department, headed by the Rev Manasa Lasaro, had prepared the statement.

The Rev Tugaue says Mr Lasaro had rushed senior church executives through the lengthy statement in a few minutes before making it public.

The unsigned statement had called for President Iloilo to be medically examined and retired and for Commodore Bainimarama to step down as interim prime minister.

Although the Methodist Church had supported the 1987 and 2000 coups, the statement said the December takeover should be viewed as a treasonous act against the state.

It said the use of military power to usurp the mandate of an elected government set a dangerous precedent in the governance of the country.

A former army lawyer who was advising George Speight during the 2000 coup, Tevita Bukarau, and another individual who are believed to have assisted in writing the statement have been questioned by the military and released.