31 Oct 2005

French critical of French Polynesian leader's comments at Forum

7:46 am on 31 October 2005

The French government has criticised French Polynesia's President, Oscar Temaru, for his remarks made at the Pacific Islands Forum in Papua New Guinea last week.

The Papeete-based French high commissioner, Anne Boquet, who has joined the Post-Forum Dialogue meeting in Port Moresby, says Mr Temaru has no mandate to talk about independence in a foreign country.

This comes after Mr Temaru told a reporter that the territory's autonomy statute was just a piece of paper and that he has been fighting for the dignity of his people.

Ms Bouquet says he has no mandate from the electorate nor from the French state to demand French Polynesia's independence.

She also says French Polynesia's accession to the Forum as an associate member can only occur with the consent of Paris.

Two years ago, the French President, Jacques Chirac, lobbied Pacific leaders to give the French Pacific territories full membership.

As an apparent concession to non-sovereign territories, the Forum this year created an associated membership category for French Polynesia and New Caledonia.