9 Sep 2010

Tahiti's Tahoeraa wary and surprised at decolonisation idea

1:32 pm on 9 September 2010

French Polynesia's Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party has expressed surprise at a French government report suggesting a possible independence referendum within 20 years, should current efforts to end political instability fail.

The leader of the pro-autonomy party, Gaston Flosse, says there is a reason to believe that Paris wants to threaten French Polynesia's assembly members with punishment, if they object to reform proposals being drawn up by Paris.

His deputy and vice-president of the French Polynesian government, Edouard Fritch, says the idea of a decolonisation process similiar to the one adopted for New Caledonia has not been included in the French government's outline given to the assembly members.

He says the issue has no priority but could prompt pro- and anti-independence supporters to set their differences aside.

The French 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 Tahiti in Paris to draw up the fourth change to Tahiti's electoral system since 2004.