6 Aug 2003

French Polynesian leader an observer at MSG meeting

4:30 pm on 6 August 2003

The French Polynesian pro-independence leader, Oscar Temaru, is lobbying Melanesian leaders to oppose France's attempt to have the territory granted observer status at the Pacific Islands Forum.

He has arrived in Gizo in Solomon Islands Western Province for the Melanesian Spearhead Group leaders summit.

The MSG includes Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia's pro-independence FLNKS.

It is understood Mr Temaru was encouraged to travel to Gizo by the Solomons delegation in Papeete last week for the meeting with French President Jacques Chirac

At the weekend Mr Temaru accused France of using its chequebook to try and influence the Forum's admission process so that French Polynesia can join as an observer.

To qualify, a territory has to be on its way to independence, but French Polynesia is no longer on the UN list of territories to be decolonised.