23 Aug 2011

Methodist Church in Fiji still hopeful of holding conference due to start today

7:19 am on 23 August 2011

Fiji's Methodist Church is hoping for more time to convince the interim government to let its annual conference, scheduled to start today, to go ahead.

Fiji media is reporting the conference has been cancelled by the interim Fiji government and that the interim government spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Neumi Leweni, is reported as saying that church senior officials have not been abiding by the permit conditions.

The regime had banned the last two annual conferences but gave the go ahead for a three day event this week in Suva if the church avoided commenting on political issues.

In the lead up Methodist officials had met several times to consider a directive from Commodore Bainimarama that its leaders not conduct any of the sessions at the conference.

The church spokesperson, the reverend Tevita Banivanua, says officials rejected this, saying its constitution is paramount.

But he says they still hope to hold the event.

"We are hoping that you know they can just give us some more time to explain our selves - I don't know whether they will accept that or not."

Reverend Tevita Banivanua also says politics is part and parcel of the work of a church and can't be ignored as demanded by the interim regime.

He says the church can't ignore politics when a key focus of its work is dealing with social issues such as poverty.