World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

Fiji - Message on the internal crisis

26 May 2000

Message to the member churches in Fiji, 26 May 2000.

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

The recent events that began in Fiji with protest marches in the streets and the take-over of the Parliament complex and government officials as hostages by a group of armed men on 19th May have been a matter of deep concern for us. The situation has plunged the country into a deepening political crisis and the President, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, has been constrained to declare a state of emergency. There have been several meetings of the Great Council of Chiefs in their effort to resolve the crisis.

The officials of the United Nations and the Commonwealth have visited the country and met the parties to express the concern of the international community at the developments that have taken place. Despite unanimous condemnation of the armed take-over, the stand-off between the President, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, and the leader of the armed group continues. This has brought the country to a virtual standstill with much suffering and uncertainty for the people.

The World Council of Churches strongly condemns the armed intervention to subvert the popular will of the people obtained through the democratic process. The Council supports the commitment of the Churches in Fiji to maintain an egalitarian and tolerant society. It calls on the parties concerned to maintain the sanctity of the Constitution and to respect the rule of law in the country. The long and careful consultative process involved in the drafting of the present constitution should not be lightly set aside.

We appreciate the initiatives taken by the member churches of the Council in their endeavors to seek a peaceful resolution of the conflict through dialogue and prayers. It is through such concrete involvement that the Church is able to provide a living witness. The witness of the Church is strengthened in the process of assisting in the healing of the wounds of discord and conflict.

The World Council of Churches expresses its sympathy for all those who have suffered loss as a result of the breakdown of law and order. Please convey to those aggrieved and affected by these events our sympathy and prayers. We will continue to keep you and the people of Fiji in our prayers and will do whatever is necessary to support the endeavours of the Churches to establish a just and lasting peace through dialogue, cooperation and building of trust and mutual understanding between the concerned parties.

                                                                                    Geneviève Jacques
                                                                                    Acting General Secretary