PM Hits Out At Church

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says he is concerned that the Methodist Church has been dragged back into politics. As a church member himself, he expressed his concern outside of Parliament
25 Apr 2017 11:00
PM Hits Out At Church
Methodist Church President Rev. Tevita Bainivanua , March 29, 2017

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says he is concerned that the Methodist Church has been dragged back into politics.

As a church member himself, he expressed his concern outside of Parliament yesterday as he elaborated on his statement inside the debating chamber earlier.

Mr Bainimarama accused the Methodist Church  of  being the mouthpiece of SODELPA in the parliamentary debate. He was referring to a statement put out by the Methodist Church last week.

The statement called for a review of the Constitution for Fiji to become a Christian state and for Government to address the issues of indigenous rights.

SODELPA MP Mosese Bulitavu had asked Mr Bainimarama in Parliament whether Government would review the 2013 Constitution. Mr Bainimarama replied that as a lawyer Mr Bulitavu should know, if he read the Constitution, that there would be no review. Amendments could be sought, he added.

Outside Parliament, Mr Bainimarama said what Mr Bulitavu was asking was similar to the statement by the Methodist Church.

The president of the Methodist Church, Reverend Tevita Banivanua said: “We have never been a mouthpiece for any political party, we are the mouthpiece of God here in Fiji.” He said he was not aware of the controversy surrounding the church.

Mr Bainimarama said Government and the church had good working relationship. He suspected that the so-called church statement was engineered by a group of talatalas (ministers). He said it  reminded him of the events of 1987 where some talatalas (ministers) had supported the military coup leader Sitiveni Rabuka. He said it was like Mr Rabuka leading the church again.

“It’s a lost cause,” he added.

SODELPA leader Mr Rabuka could not be reached to comment yesterday.

Mr Bainimarama said the lack of knowledge and understanding of the relevant laws had led  to SODELPA politicians making unfounded statements about indigenous rights and Christian state.

He said the indigenous people here, the iTaukei, were not marginalised as some claimed. They owned 92 per cent of the land, he added .

On the Constitution he told Parliament: “Simply put there is not review process under the Constitution,” Mr Bainimarama responded.

Under the Constitution, he said it provided a process for amendments to be made to the Constitution.

Mr Bainimarama said that Mr Bulitavu should have the answers to his question because he was a lawyer by profession and that it was also a legal question.

He said it also showed that the SODELPA MP was not familiar with the Constitution which was the supreme law of the land and it would also show the amount of lies he would make during the next general elections.

The Constitution, Mr Bainimarama said was better than any Constitution that Fiji ever had because it looked after the rights of indigenous people.

Mr Bainimarama said the Methodist Church was confused like Mr Bulitavu because they didn’t understand the Constitution.

He said the statement was used by SODELPA as a campaign material which talked about the elimination of racial discrimination.

“They don’t understand what they are talking about , it’s because , they are campaign mouth for SODELPA, it’s a sad fact ,” Mr Bainimarama said.

He said indigenous people in Fiji had not been victimised.

“We have not been victimised on this land, I don’t feel victimised on this land. Opposition comes up with all these arguments to justify the lies they’ve been telling the public,” Mr Bainimarama said

SODELPA Opposition MP, Semesa Karavaki, asked Mr Bainimarama to build this nation on the principal of justice as stated in the Constitution.

Sharing the same sentiments, SODEPLA Opposition MP, Niko Nawaikula told Mr Bainimarama to establish an independent commission to review the Constitution.

His colleague, Bill Gavoka, said if it was the best Constitution, Government should allow  a national referendum to see what the people said..

Edited by Naisa Koroi


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