30 Jan 2008

Marquesas renews push to split from French Polynesia

5:32 pm on 30 January 2008

There has been a renewed call for French Polyensia's Marquesas islands to become a separate colonial entity linked to France.

This comes after the first round of the territory's early general election, in which the list led by a Marquesas mayor Benoit Kautai won more than 50 percent of the votes to be elected to the territorial assembly.

Mr Kautai has reiterated his wish for the archipelago to set up a direct link with Paris under a new statute but without completely removing itself from the rest of French Polynesia.

He has told the Tahitipresse news agency that his push is the result of the Marquesas having felt neglected by successive administrations in Tahiti.

Mr Kautai says he expects Paris to present its proposal of a new statute in April.

The proposal to split the territory upset political leaders in December an d prompted President Oscar Temaru to organise a protest march in Papeete the weekend before Christmas.