16 Aug 2011

Fiji's Methodist Church says gathering a step forward despite restrictions

12:57 pm on 16 August 2011

Fiji's largest church says being able to hold its conference next week, even under scrutiny and on a reduced timetable, is a step forward for freedom and its relations with the interim government.

The Methodist Church is holding its first annual gathering in three years after a ban imposed by the regime.

The church's deputy General Secretary the Reverend Tevita Banivanua says it's been given 24 hours over three days for the conference.

He says government observers are likely to be there to ensure church leaders stick to the agenda and not touch on politics.

"It depends what you mean by politics. We are concerned for the poor and we are concerned for education and health and that is probably where politics, political decisions are taken. But if their interpretation of politics is (around) political parties then we have nothing to do with that."

The Reverend Banivanua says conference-goers have nothing to hide and any representatives of the regime attending are welcome to stay and even say what they think.