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Fiji Methodists challenge legitimacy of military rule

In addition to HIV-AIDS, church representatives who attended the Methodist Consultative Council of the Pacific (MCCP) discussed other concerns they have.

While the Solomon Islands are recovering from their traumatic earthquake and tsunami, other Pacific nations currently face political instability and strife.

Confronted with a military take over that has split their society, the Fijian Methodist Church delegates to MCCP discussed the ‘theology of coup’.

They said the coup is a symptom of deeper conflicts in Fiji: power struggles between politicians, ethnic groups, rich and poor, commoners and chiefs.

The immediate cause of the coup, the church leaders suggest, is government corruption. Nevertheless, they do not support Commander Frank Bainimarama’s takeover because it is illegal.

“The way the coup was done is not right. The Methodist Church is a prophetic voice. We are standing up to be the voice of the voiceless. We are speaking on behalf of the people who can’t voice their concerns.”

The Methodist Church is the largest church in Fiji, and Methodists are on both sides in the current crisis. Some Methodist serve in the military and others have been subjected to degrading treatment by soldiers. Two Methodists have been killed in the army barracks.

The Fijian Methodist Church has called on the Great Council of Chiefs to show integrity and stand up for the rule of law and human rights. It has called on the military to set a timetable and road map for Fiji to return to democratic rule.

The church says the military claims its assumption of executive authority is supported in law. If this is so, it should test this in the Courts. And members of the deposed government should be subject to due process of the law if there are allegations against them.

The Methodist Church also argues that the issues Commander Bainimarama cites as the cause of the coup should be examined by a neutral body under the leadership of a retired overseas judge.