Challenge in French Polynesia over test memorial funding

4:29 pm on 7 November 2019

A French Polynesian member of the French National Assembly has challenged the funding model for the construction of a memorial for the nuclear weapons test legacy in Tahiti.

Maina Sage

Maina Sage Photo: Tahoeraa Huiraatira party

Maina Sage said given the sensitivity of the subject it was indecent to now tell French Polynesians that they alone would have to pay for any building.

A year ago, the French National Assembly voted to cede the former command complex of the French Navy in Papeete for a nuclear museum if it was built within five years.

The overseas minister Annick Girardin told Ms Sage that the agreement was for France to give the land and for French Polynesia to pay for the work.

France, which carried out 193 tests in the South Pacific between 1966 and 1996, is now locked in disputes with veterans' groups over its compensation policy towards those suffering ill-health.

In Tahiti, the president Edouard Fritch has met the French High Commissioner Dominique Sorain for talks of the planning group in an effort to advance the project.

Mr Sorain confirmed to Radio1 that a 2008 law change has added new restrictions to the access to classifed information which had been hoped to be deposited in the archive of the proposed memorial.

In June, one veterans' organisation, Association 193, pulled out of the planning group in protest at last year's changes to the compensation law, suggesting the centre will serve as propaganda for purportedly clean tests.

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