24 Jul 2009

Church leaders in Fiji freed, but warned not to meet

8:10 pm on 24 July 2009

Two former Fiji Methodist Church presidents have been released on bail, but warned not to meet.

The Methodist Church is the largest Christian denomination in Fiji.

The Rev Manasa Lasaro and Rev Tomasi Kanailagi appeared in court on Friday afternoon on charges of contravening the Public Emergency Regulations.

The ministers were among several senior clergymen questioned by police over plans to proceed with the church's annual conference, despite it being cancelled by the interim government.

On Thursday, the church's president and general secretary, along with Fiji's highest ranking female chief, were charged and released on bail.

For the past couple of months, interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has been telling the church it will not be allowed to hold its annual gathering in August, or any other meetings, unless it follows strict conditions.

These include that the church exclude two of its former presidents from meetings and that it agrees to remove any political discussion from the agenda.