31 Aug 2007

Fiji interim administration unlikely to heed Methodist call for Sunday trading ban

9:53 am on 31 August 2007

A cabinet minister in Fiji's interim administration says they are unlikely to heed the Methodist Church's call for a ban on all Sunday trading and business.

The minister for local government, Jone Navakamocea, made the comment in response to statements by the Methodist Church that it would write to all town and city councils asking them not to allow businesses to open on Sundays.

Mr Navakamocea has told the Fijilive news website that freedom of religion and freedom to work on any day of the week are enshrined in Fiji's constitution and will not be changed.

He says writing to municipal councils would be fruitless because it would be the interim government which would have the authority to make such decisions.

Mr Navakamocea says since the church's request would violate some of the freedoms enshrined in the constitution, it is unlikely the interim administration would heed such a request.

The Sunday bans imposed after the 1987 Rabuka coups saw people being prosecuted by the authorities and coming under close scrutiny from the military and vigilante Methodists to force them to observe the restrictions.

All public transport and organized sport was banned and even children found kicking a ball were harassed.