9 Jun 2005

Stunned reaction to France's plan to rescind autonomy in French Polynesia

8:20 pm on 9 June 2005

Political leaders in French Polynesia have hit out at a proposed organic French law designed to claw back powers granted to the territory in last year's autonomy statute.

The proposal was reportedly drawn up last month by the former minister in charge of overseas territories, Brigitte Girardin, but only now made public in a Tahiti newspaper.

The plan, which has now gone to the French Polynesian assembly, is to extend the powers of the French high commissioner purportedly to ensure that the territory's institutions function properly.

The speaker of the assembly, Antony Geros, says there may be some duplicity at play to see the territory return to colonial times.

Nicole Bouteau of the centrist ADN has described the proposal as a provocation at a time when efforts are being made to normalise links between Papeete and Paris.

The opposition Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party, which pushed the autonomy statute through when it was in power, has also expressed reservations. It says it has politicians in the French assembly and the Senate to defend French Polynesia's interests.