Tahiti's Forum membership linked to Clark's UN bid

12:43 pm on 4 October 2016

New Zealand's support for French Polynesia's Pacific Islands Forum membership appears to be linked to French support for Helen Clark's UN secretary general bid, says a political scientist in French Polynesia.

Helen Clark

Helen Clark Photo: AFP

Former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark recently finished seventh out of nine candidates in the latest United Nations straw poll as the race to succeed Ban ki-Moon as UN Secretary-General heats up.

Semir Al Wardi said France had lobbied New Zealand and Australia to make the French Pacific territories full Forum members despite them not being independent.

The Forum accepted French Polynesia as a full member last month - a status previously restricted to independent countries.

Speaking on local television, he said the three countries had their own interests, such as Australia vying for a UN Security Council seat.

"Of course, France is one of the five permanent Security Council members, which has weight and allows France to push the Clark candidacy. That is also why New Zealand has pushed for French Polynesia to become a full Forum member."

Semir Al Wardi said French Polynesia's integration as a non-independent member into the Forum was a political move, which had no impact on France maintaining control of the territory.

The Pacific Islands Forum website said the group was made up of independent and self-governing states.

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