Charges dropped against Fijian Methodist Church leaders

The Fijian government has dropped most of the charges againstleaders of the Methodist Church in Fiji. Fijian Methodists havemade contact with the Methodist Church in Britain to thank peoplefor their prayers and support.

All members of the Fiji Methodist Church Standing Committee werecharged with attending an unauthorized meeting held in April 2009and were held for questioning by police in July last year. Now allbut four of them have had their charges dropped due to'insufficient evidence'.

Mike King, Leader of World Church Relationships, said: "The churchleadership was keen to give us this heartening news and to thankthe many Methodists in Britain who have prayed so faithfully forthe Methodist Church in Fiji at this difficult time."

Methodists in Britain fasted in solidarity with the MethodistChurch in Fiji in February after increasing pressure was put on theChurch from the country's government led by Commodore Bainimarama.The Fijian government forced the Church to cancel its annualConference and choir festivals until 2014 and prohibited localdistricts and circuits from carrying out their activities,including administrative meetings.

The Church is hopeful that these new developments herald a changeof heart and a return to conversation instead of confrontation. Itis hoped that further steps towards the normal functioning ofChurch governance will be achieved through talks.

Charges, however, remain outstanding against the General Secretaryof the Church, Revd Tuikilakila Waqairatu, the current President,Revd Ame Tuague, and two former Presidents of the Church, RevdManasa Lasaro and Revd Tomasi Kanailagi. Revd Tomasi was a senatorin the previous government.