1 Jun 2009

Academic says Fiji Methodist Church conference never likely under regime's restrictions

3:35 pm on 1 June 2009

A sociology lecturer in Fiji, specialising in religion and politics, says the cancellation of the Methodist Church's annual meeting was inevitable under the interim regime's emergency regulations.

The church's annual meeting is a key one, where church members come together, its annual choir festival is held, and substantial church offerings and donations are collected.

The move to cancel the meeting follows the detainment of a key church figure last month after he had delivered a sermon calling for peaceful protests to restore democracy to Fiji.

The University of the South Pacific's Dr Lynda Newland says the interim regime's emergency regulations make it clear the meeting wouldn't be allowed.

"I would imagine it'd be a major task to postpone it but at the moment Fiji is in or under emergency regulations and of course that means that any meeting that is seen to be a threat to the interim government is not going to be held."

Dr Newland says since the 2006 coup, factions within the Methodist Church have been vocal in their opposition to the military led regime.