20 Dec 2004

Forum-France talks on Tahiti crisis shelved

2:28 pm on 20 December 2004

Discussions on French Polynesia between the Pacific Islands Forum and France have been shelved until next year.

The political crisis in Tahiti is in its third month and no agreement has been reached to allow a Forum fact finding mission into the territory which this year became a Forum Observer after strong lobbying from France.

The French embassy in Suva says the diplomats dealing with the matter are on leave for the holiday season.

While France has reportedly agreed in principle to a fact finding mission, it has said a visit is premature.

There have since been calls by the ousted French Polynesian government to send monitors for the campaign and by-election due in February but last week, the French government-backed new administration of Gaston Flosse said there was no need for observers.

His party, the Tahoeraa Huiraatira, has also denounced the French Socialists for wanting to monitor the election process.

Last month, the French supreme court annulled the election of two thirds of the assembly's MPs because of serious irregularities - in the biggest failure of a general election result the region has seen.