22 May 2013

Paris asked to organise French Polynesia self-determination referendum

7:47 pm on 22 May 2013

The French High Commissioner in Papeete says he will report to Paris any formal request for a referendum on French Polynesia's self-determination.

The new president, Gaston Flosse, wants immediate action after last week's UN vote to re-inscribe the territory on the UN decolonisation list.

But the high commissioner Jean-Pierre Laflaquiere has told local media that it is up to the French President, Francois Hollande, to comment on the issue.

Mr Flosse, who is an advocate for continuing the current autonomy arrangement, says a referendum should go ahead as soon as possible to remove the issue from politics.

After his election win two weeks ago, Mr Flosse's party and French diplomats unsuccessfully tried to halt the UN process in New York.

Mr Flosse has also rejected the idea of restricting voting rights in the referendum to long-term residents.

The former President, who has driven the decolonisation push, Oscar Temaru says the eligibility question needs to be discussed, adding that he would prefer to exclude people who arrived in the territory after 1966 when France began using the South Pacific to test its nuclear weapons.