15 Jun 2005

New call to test whether French Polynesians want independence

2:42 pm on 15 June 2005

French Polynesia's former president, Gaston Flosse, has again suggested that it may be time for the territory to organise a referendum on independence from France.

Mr Flosse told a Tahiti daily newspaper from Paris that it was time for the current president, Oscar Temaru, to make his intentions known.

Mr Temaru has said independence is not an option for more than a decade while Mr Flosse has advocated autonomy while maintaining its place within the French republic.

Mr Flosse has challenged Mr Temaru to state whether he expects France to fund any independence plan.

He floated the referendum idea last year although France has made no provisions for any such plebiscite.

France has also rejected calls for enlisting French Polynesia on the UN list of non-self governing territories.

Mr Flosse has met the new overseas territories minister, Francois Baroin, while Mr Temaru is due in Paris within a week.

This comes just days after a new bill was drafted in Paris aimed at retaking some of the powers granted to French Polynesia under last year's autonomy statute.