French Polynesian independence leader calls for referendum

7:14 am on 11 October 2019
Oscar Temaru

Oscar Temaru Photo: RNZI/Monica Miller

French Polynesia's pro-independence leader Oscar Temaru has dismissed calls for the territory to be withdrawn from the UN decolonisation list.

Speaking in New York, he instead called for a referendum on independence from France.

Mr Temaru's call came after the president, Edouard Fritch, told the UN the territory should be delisted again because most people oppose independence and vote for his party.

Mr Temaru said the referendum should be held with internationally acceptable standards in force, meaning that voting rights would be restricted to long-term residents.

France has, to date, ignored the territory's 2013 relisting by the UN General Assembly, describing it as a glaring interference.

Paris has also ignored calls for a referendum made by pro- as well as anti-independence politicians.

Mr Temaru also said Cuban doctors should be allowed to work in French Polynesia to relieve the doctor shortage in the outer islands.

He added that visas are only granted by France which he says is a brake on development.

His comment follows the recent death of a baby who succumbed to an infection while being transported from Ua Pou in the Marquesas to planned care in Tahiti.