9 Sep 2010

France moots Tahiti's decolonisation if instability persists

10:32 am on 9 September 2010

A French government report says an independence referendum should be considered in French Polynesia if current efforts to end political instability fail.

The suggestion is in contrast to the French policy of the last 60 years which has ruled out any process to decolonise the territory that until 1996 was used as France's nuclear weapons test site.

The report, obtained by the AFP news agency, was prepared for the overseas territories minister Marie-Luce Penchard, who this week has been meeting political leaders from French Polynesia in Paris to draw up the fourth change to Tahiti's electoral system since 2004.

After the last change two years ago, Paris called an early general election but the new coalition government that emerged was voted out a month into its five-year term.

The report says if this year's efforts to stabilise the political situation fail, a 20-year self-determination process should be considered, modelled on the accord put in place for New Caledonia.

The suggestion is in line with demands by the pro-independence leader, Oscar Temaru, whose 30-year campaign for Tahiti's re-inscription on the UN decolonisation list has been ignored by both France and Pacific Islands Forum countries.