18 Aug 2005

Fiji Catholics call off planned protest march

10:47 am on 18 August 2005

Members of Fiji's 60,000 strong Catholic Church have called off a protest march planned for tomorrow.

The march was to show their concern at the government decision to bypass teachers from the church-run Corpus Christi Training College in Suva from employment.

But the government backed off yesterday when the prime minister met with the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Archbishop Petero Mataca, yesterday.

Laisenia Qarase praised the role of the Catholic Church which pioneered education in Fiji and runs more than 60 schools.

Mr Qarase agreed that teachers from Corpus Christi College will be given the same employment opportunities as those from state-run teacher colleges.

The government is also facing accusations of double standards over a decision by the commissioner central, Inoke Devo, to withdraw a permit for the Catholic march when it had earlier approved a march through Nausori by members of the Methodist Church.

The director of Catholic education, Pio Manoa, is questioning what security threat hymn singing church members would have posed.