23 Jun 2005

Fiji Catholic Archbishop wants Reconciliation Bill withdrawn for consultation

10:17 am on 23 June 2005

A report from Fiji says the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, did not tell the heads of various churches about the controversial clauses in his Reconciliation and Unity Bill when he asked for their support.

The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Fiji, Archbishop Petero Mataca, has told the Fiji Times Mr Qarase also did not show church leaders copies of the Bill when he set up a meeting with them on May the 2nd.

Archbishop Mataca says "the presentation by the prime minister painted the Bill in a very positive light."

Archbishop Mataca says the overthrow of a democratically elected government is a serious crime and those involved must face the consequences, or the coup cycle would continue.

The head of the Catholic Church has made a public appeal to the president, the prime minister and all members of the government to withdraw the Bill until such time as proper consultations can be held.

Archbishop Mataca says reconciliation and unity cannot be achieved through a politically motivated Bill which has caused so much opposition, division and confusion in the country.