30 Sep 2003

Fiji's Methodists called on to back changes to the constitution

5:02 pm on 30 September 2003

Fiji's powerful Methodist Church has called on Methodist members of parliament to support changes to the constitution sought by the church.

Fiji TV says the call was made in a nationally broadcast Fijian language sermon by the church president, The Rev Laisiasa Ratabacaca.

The Rev Ratabacaca called on the church's more than 200 thousand members to urge their MPs to amend the constitution to prevent national disunity.

At its annual conference earlier this month, the church said it wanted the provisions of the multi-party cabinet in the constitution removed and Fiji declared a Christian state.

The provisions have caused serious differences between the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase and the Fiji labour Party which wants to be part of the government.

Although Mr Qarase has offered Labour 14 seats in an expended 36-member cabinet, the differences have still not been resolved and Labour's seat entitlement has been referred back to the Supreme Court