31 Oct 2005

French Polynesian president disagrees with France over Forum accession

5:00 pm on 31 October 2005

The French Polynesian president, Oscar Temaru, has replied to a reprimand by the French high commissioner after attending the Pacific Islands Forum.

Mr Temaru says he is qualified to speak about the French territory at the Forum after the high commissioner to Tahiti, Anne Boquet, told a newspaper that he had no mandate to talk about independence in a foreign country.

Mr Temaru had earlier said the territory's autonomy statute was just a piece of paper and outlined his vision of a regional passport and the adoption of the US dollar or euro as a common currency.

The Forum agreed to accommodate the French territories as associate members and Mr Temaru now says this is the step to full Forum membership.

But Ms Boquet says French Polynesia's accession as an associate member can only occur with the consent of Paris.

This comes two years after the French President, Jacques Chirac, lobbied Pacific leaders to give the French Pacific territories full membership.

Mr Temaru said after returning from the Forum in PNG that for the first time French Polynesia could sit at the Forum table to discuss mutual concerns.