6 Aug 2007

Call for referendum on independence in French Polynesia

6:17 am on 6 August 2007

There has been a call in French Polynesia for an immediate referendum on independence in the face of the persistent political instability.

The call was made by the local leader of the Mormon church as President Gaston Tong Sang wound up a week of consultations with groups from throughout society on whether they favoured early election as demanded by most of his political rivals.

With church leaders expressing dismay at the political exchanges, the Mormon's delegate, Jean Tefan, says the independence question is one of the causes for the instability.

A month ago, the pro-independence leader, Oscar Temaru, began holding talks with the anti-independence's Gaston Flosse on a so-called Tahiti Nui Accord that would pave the way for a referendum on self-determination by 2028.

The surprise announcement came as Mr Flosse withdrew the support from Mr Tong Sang's coalition government although the two are in the same party.

In the face of the infighting and as part of an effort to bring about stable government, France now wants to hold talks with all of Tahiti's

key political leaders in Paris in two weeks as it prepares to introduce the third electoral system in three years.

There are no plans to legislate against party hopping which on two occasions brought down the government led by Mr Temaru.