16 Aug 2010

Rapa Nui Parliament wants to secede from Chile

1:59 pm on 16 August 2010

Community leaders on Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, have threatened to secede from Chile and transfer allegiance to Polynesia in a row over land rights and immigration.

The Guardian newspaper reports prominent indigenous families have told the Pacific Islands Forum they wish to renounce Chilean sovereignty and become part of Oceania.

Leviante Araki, head of the Rapa Nui Parliament, requested secession in a letter last week to the Pacific Islands Forum and Chile's President Sebastian Pinera.

They resent what they say is an uncontrolled influx of tourists and settlers and accuse the Government of taking over ancestral land.

Protesters have occupied several state-owned buildings following Mr Pinera's appointment of a governor who's suspected of plotting land deals.

The governor has offered to resign and the President dispatched a team of troubleshooters to address locals' concerns.

Meanwhile, Alberto Hotus, who head's the island's elders' council, says the territory cannot survive without mainland support.