Churches condemn Fiji coup and seek peace with justice

By staff writers
8 Dec 2006

The head of the Fiji Council of Churches has condemned the administration set up by army commander Commodore Frank Bainimarama after a military seizure of power as "illegal and unconstitutional" and has urged prayers for God's intervention – reports Ecumenical News International.

"We are deeply convinced that the move now taken by the commander and his advisors is the manifestation of darkness and evil," said the Rev Tuikilakila Waqairatu, president of the Fiji Council of Churches and the Assembly of Christian Churches in Fiji.

Meanwhile, in Britain, the Rev Michael King, team leader for World Church Relationships section of the Methodist Church declared: “Although there have been political tensions in Fiji for several weeks, it still came as a surprise to many that the military felt that they needed to take control.”

He added: “We are thankful that the country so far remains calm and hope for a peaceful resolution of the crisis. The Methodist Church of Britain has many connections with the Methodist Church in Fiji, including a Mission Partner in Suva at the moment, the Rev Dr David Upp.”

Continued Mr King: “We pray for and with all our friends in Fiji, in the various walks of life that they find themselves during the crisis, including the President of the Methodist Church, the Rev Laisasa Ratabacaca. Our prayer is for God's peace, justice and reconciliation throughout the islands of Fiji, and for wise leadership during these uncertain days and into the future. Our prayers are also for Fijians elsewhere in the world…who will be anxious for loved ones in Fiji at this time.”

Commodore Bainimarama declared a state of emergency on 6 December 2006 after seizing power the previous day. The deposed Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, has accepted a military request to return to his home on Fiji's Lau islands, but insists he is still the country's legitimate leader, the BBC has reported.

"We do not recognise and support Commodore Bainimarama's interim government because it is illegal and unconstitutional," said Waqairatu, who belongs to the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma, to which about 37 per cent of Fiji's 906 000 people belong.

The Fiji Council of Churches' statement said leaders of Christian churches were united in reiterating support for "the democratically-elected government and leadership of Honourable Laisenia Qarase". It added, "We request Christians and all citizens in the country to continue praying for the situation and for God's intervention."

Just over half of Fijians are native Melanesians, while 44 per cent are descended from Indians brought to the islands by the British colonial rulers more than 100 years ago to work in sugar plantations.

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