20 Aug 2011

Fiji govt requests church leaders stand down from Conference next week

8:40 am on 20 August 2011

The Methodist Church of Fiji will hold a second meeting on Monday to discuss an apparent demand by the interim government that three church leaders stand down before next week's annual church conference.

It's the first annual Methodist Church gathering in three years following a ban imposed by Commodore Frank Bainimarama's regime in 2009.

The deputy general secretary, Tevita Banivanua, says police phoned the church on Thursday singling out the Reverend Ame Tugaue, the General Secretary the Reverend Tuikilakila Waqairatu, and the Reverend Manasa Lasaro.

"What we have heard was that they will not be allowed to lead or chair the meeting. We have requested a letter that if this is the actual word of the Prime Minister, please put it down into writing because in our permit there is no such condition."

Tevita Banivanua says the reason the police gave is that the three church leaders are facing court charges for having conducted a meeting which contravened the public emergency regulations.