12 May 2005

French Polynesia opposition supports Forum bid

3:47 pm on 12 May 2005

The opposition in French Polynesia is backing President Oscar Temaru's bid to have the territory become a full member of the Pacific Islands Forum.

The Forum has been granting full membership to independent countries only but the French president, Jacques Chirac, lobbied regional leaders two years ago to let the French Pacific territories join all the same.

When campaigning for independence from France, Mr Temaru was opposed to Mr Chirac's initiative but now he favours the French stance.

The secretary-general of the opposition Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party, Jean-Christophe Bouissou, says Forum membership as sought by the former president Gaston Flosse would be welcome.

"We know that French Polynesia today, that the population doesn't want to go through to independence. So if the countries in the Forum could change the rules a little bit to let French Polynesia become a full member, that would be a good thing."

Jean-Christophe Bouissou of the opposition Tahoeraa.

French Polynesia was granted Forum observer status last year, five years after New Caledonia.