13 Feb 2004

French Polynesia autonomy statute passes final hurdle

4:38 pm on 13 February 2004

The Paris-based French Constitutional Council has today passed the autonomy statute for French Polynesia with minor changes.

This means that the statute, giving French Polynesia more powers to decide labour, land-tenure and other issues, will be promulgated by French President Jacques Chirac, and take effect.

France retains control over money supply and defence in French Polynesia.

French Polynesia will now no longer be a French overseas territory but become an overseas country within the French Republic.

Five aspects of the statute were found to be unconstitutional and were nullified.

They concerned local referendums; adoption of legislative norms; surveillance of territorial waters; transfer of goods and lands; and the civil registry.

An appeal by about sixty socialist legislators opposed to the statute failed to prevent its acceptance.

The Constitutional Council was the final hurdle before the Autonomy Act, endorsed by both Houses in late January, can become law.