12 Nov 2004

French Polynesia stalemate an important test for Pacific Islands Forum

4:44 pm on 12 November 2004

A close New Zealand observer of events in the Pacific says the crisis in French Polynesia will be an important test for the Pacific Islands Forum.

Key decisions are awaited from France that could resolve the more than month-long impasse between two rival governments and their supporters in French Polynesia.

Dr John Henderson of Canterbury University, says Pacific nations expect the Forum Secretary-General, Greg Urwin, to be proactive during such times.

But Dr Henderson says the Forum would want to be invited by France to help, and that is unlikely to happen.

So, he says the best approach for it would be a behind-the-scenes one.

"I actually think it's an important test for Greg Urwin. He's been tasked with being more proactive in heading off regional crises before they develop too far and here is one. I mean, I think if this is left unresolved, the possibility of violence is real."

Dr Henderson says he would like to see the Forum send in observers to watch any future elections held in the territory, as happened in Vanuatu and the Cook Islands recently.