Flosse proposes new status for French Polynesia

12:08 pm on 2 July 2020

French Polynesia's veteran politician Gaston Flosse wants a referendum to make French Polynesia an independent country in free association with France.

Mr Flosse said that the autonomy statute, brought in at his behest 35 years ago, had run its course and French Polynesia should now govern itself.

Veteran French Polynesian politician, Gaston Flosse.

Veteran French Polynesian politician, Gaston Flosse. Photo: RNZ Pacific

He told Tahiti Nui TV that in November his Tahoeraa Huiraatira party will change its name to Amuitahiraa no te nunaa Maohi to reflect its new political direction.

It will be separate from the pro-independence camp which Flosse said had failed to make any headway in 43 years of campaigning.

The statute envisaged by Mr Flosse is akin to the relationship between the Cook Islands and New Zealand.

He added that he expected a broader opposition movement for change as French Polynesia now faced a social crisis with a government bereft of any ideas on how to cope.

Mr Flosse was briefly in alliance with the pro-independence Tavini Huiraatira of Oscar Temaru for the 2008 election but his government fell.

For decades Mr Flosse was a staunch advocate for French Polynesia to be part of France and he himself served in the Jacques Chirac-led government of the 1980s.

He also supported France's use of French Polynesia to test its nuclear weapons.

In 2014 he lost the last of his political posts because of a corruption conviction, with Mr Flosse accusing the French state of wanting to eliminate him from the political scene.

In 2013, the UN reinscribed French Polynesia on the decolonisation list but France refused to acknowledge the decision.