Tahiti leader to lobby UN against decolonisation

8:40 pm on 3 October 2016

French Polynesia's president Edouard Fritch has flown to New York to address - for the first time - the United Nations Decolonisation Committee.

Three years ago, the territory was reinscribed on the UN decolonisation list in a move decried by France which labelled it a glaring interference by the UN.

Mr Fritch, who is the leader of a pro-autonomy government, is expected to tell the UN that at the last election almost 80 percent of voters backed parties opposed to independence.

Polynesian Leaders Group in Tahiti

The president of French Polynesia, Edouard Fritch addresses the Polynesian Leaders Group in Tahiti. Photo: Supplied

After the election, the territorial assembly asked France to organise an independence referendum but Paris has not acted on it.

The New York meeting will also be attended by a former president and pro-independence leader Oscar Temaru as well as representatives of a test veterans organisation, seeking redress for the 193 French nuclear weapons tests in the South Pacific.

France has been slow in acknowledging their impact on people's health and the environment, maintaining until 2010 that they were clean.

The test sites, which France excised from its colony, are still no-go zones and yet to be returned to French Polynesia despite the end of the testing 20 years ago.

Last month, the Pacific Islands Forum accepted French Polynesia as a full member - a status previously restricted to independent countries.