17 Jan 2004

French Polynesian MPs welcome new statute

9:15 am on 17 January 2004

The two French Polynesian members of the French National Assembly have welcomed the autonomy statute approved in the house this week.

Michel Buillard, who is also Papeete's deputy mayor, says the new statute is a useful tool to bring about progress as it gives the municipalities more powers.

Beatrice Vernaudon has welcomed the electoral reforms contained in the package, saying that the small parties should unite.

She says there have been difficult moments in French Polynesia when there was no strong majority.

Critics say the reforms weaken democracy and point out that the territory's voters have been given no chance to have a referendum which is standard procedure under French law.