13 Oct 2003

French government to give its view on French Polynesia's autonomy statute next week

4:44 pm on 13 October 2003

The president of the French Polynesian government, Gaston Flosse, says next week the French government will give its view on the proposed new autonomy statute.

He says the text of the statute will be submitted to the council of ministers on Wednesday after which discussions will be held with the prime minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, and the minister in charge of overseas territories before being sent to the senate.

In announcing the date, Mr Flosse rejected claims that the statute would enhance the president's personal power, saying new powers will be vested in the territorial assembly.

Meanwhile, about 150 people have marched in protest at the statute which the assembly has already approved in a vote in July.

The march was organised by six opposition parties, including the main pro-independence Tavini Huiraatira Party.

Its leader, Oscar Temaru, says his group may yet choose to set up a provisional government opposed to the statute which is to replace the territory's 1996 autonomy status.

The Greens have already sent a delegation to Paris to lobby against the new statute, while six other parties will do that next month.