Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma

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The Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma is the largest Christian denomination in Fiji, with 36.2 percent of the total population (including 66.6 percent of indigenous Fijians) at the 1996 census. Of the 280,628 persons identifying themselves as Methodists, 261,972 were indigenous Fijians, 5,432 were Indo-Fijians (1.6 percent of all ethnic Indians), and 13,224 were from other ethnic communities.

Along with the chiefly system, the Methodist Church forms a key part of Fiji's social power structure. As of September 2006, its President is Rev. Laisiasa Ratabacaca, while Rev. Ame Tugaue serves as General Secretary. The Vice-President is Ratu Peni Volavola, who is also Lord Mayor of Suva, Fiji's capital.

The 2006 coup d'état[edit]

The Methodist Church strongly condemned the coup d'état carried out by the Republic of Fiji Military Forces on 5 December 2006. The church issued a 20-point statement on 2 February 2007 analyzing the various factors in the coup, including the actions of the Military Commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, to depose and reinstate President Ratu Josefa Iloilo, dismiss the Cabinet, and dissolve the Parliament, all of which it said were legally actionable. The statement called on Bainimarama to resign as interim Prime Minister to allow a "politically neutral" interim cabinet to be formed, comprising respected citizens. The Church also called for the 86-year old President Iloilo, who has publicly condoned the actions of the Military, to be "medically boarded" and, if necessary, "retired with dignity." [1]

While condemning the coup, the statement stopped short of calling for the deposed government to be reinstated, instead recognizing the reality that normal democratic rule needed a process to restore it. [2]

The statement of the Methodist Church provoked an angry reaction from Military spokesman Major Neumi Leweni, who said that the Church had allowed itself to be "used". [3]

See also[edit]