30 Mar 2006

French Polynesia's president sparks more controversy over independence

8:25 pm on 30 March 2006

The French Polynesian president, Oscar Temaru, says the territory has become a French possession through blood and the law of might.

Speaking on the eve of the first visit of a French minister since he was elected nearly two years ago, Mr Temaru says it is opportune to raise the history of Tahiti Nui as the minister, Francois Baroin, will arrive with French media representatives.

Mr Temaru had called a news conference at a Papeete cemetery to say that at his talks he will raise a proposal to set up a co-operation agreement similar to the one drawn up with New Caledonia.

He says this would set in place a process that could lead to an independence referendum within maybe 15 to 20 years.

His comments follow two reprimands by France within the past month for restating his policy of decolonisation.

The opposition has described the latest remarks as a new provocation of France, adding that he now longer has a place at the helm of French Polynesia.