RFMF Concerned By Methodist Talk

The Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) says it is concerned that recent statements by the Methodist Church could provoke the re-emergence of racial issues, ethnic tension and instability. This
27 Apr 2017 08:42
RFMF Concerned By Methodist Talk
Chief of Staff Colonel Ratu Jone Kalouniwai

The Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) says it is concerned that recent statements by the Methodist Church could provoke the re-emergence of racial issues, ethnic tension and instability.

This is the first time that the RFMF has issued a statement over debate on a political issue since the return to elected government.

Chief of Staff Colonel Ratu Jone Kalouniwai, elaborating on the statement last night, said this was because the church had an influence in the political events from 1987 to 2006.

The RFMF statement said: “The RFMF, given its constitutional role to ensure the safety, security and well-being of Fiji and all Fijians, is concerned that a prominent religious organisation such as the Methodist Church of Fiji is vocalising the supposed marginalisation and agitation of the iTaukei in its five-point submission. These we strongly feel have the potential to influence and breed suspicion, distrust, heightening ethnic tensions and potentially lead to conflict.”

Ratu Jone made it clear that they were not trying “to ruffle any feathers” or to stifle the freedom of expression.

But he said big institutions like the Methodist Church  should exercise caution and a sense of responsibility “for the wellbeing of Fiji and all Fijians.”

“The democratic process is ongoing. Everybody has concerns,” he said.

But he said our sense of responsibility would recognise that there “are bigger things than our political agendas.”

He said the RFMF supported the Government’s inclusive approach “regardless of religion, race or ethnicity.”

The RFMF had referred to statements by the Methodist Church of Fiji highlighting its five-point submission that includes the call for a Christian state, reinstatement of the Great Council of Chiefs and a review of indigenous rights issues.

“The RFMF notes that Fiji’s ethnicity has assumed disturbing dimensions since the late 1980s highlighting ethnic tensions and distrust as the curse of its past democratic transition efforts,” the RFMF statement said.

“Declaring Fiji a Christian state does show conceit and domination not to serve the purpose of Christ, but the purpose of those who seek to wield political influence through the medium of religion.

“The RFMF is of the view that all Christian churches in Fiji should avail themselves to strengthening the moral fabric of society today in teaching the Christ-like values of love, sacrifice, integrity, fidelity, renunciation of violence and forgiveness in the proclamation of the good news in the name of God regardless of religion, ethnicity and race.

“The RFMF believes that all religions must work for inclusiveness and recognise the equality of all in the one family of God. As such the RFMF is of the strong view that the insistence of declaring Fiji a Christian state through the constitution will not make Fiji Christian. It is through the exemplary lives of committed Christians and other denominations in Fiji that will have that lasting effect for good.

“The RFMF wishes to advise the people of our beloved country not to be easily swayed and manipulated by the various rhetoric’s that are using communal divisions through ethnicity, race and religion to push a specific agenda to achieve political gains.

“The RFMF does guarantee and ensure that our rights, identity, culture, religion and land are protected, enshrined and safeguarded in our constitution for all times.”

Edited by Jonathan Bryce


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