16 Jun 2009

French Polynesia president launches key talks on French overseas territories

9:11 pm on 16 June 2009

The president of French Polynesia, Oscar Temaru, and the French High commissioner will officially launch unprecedented talks to debate the future of France's overseas territories.

The trigger for the initiative of the French government was the unrest in Guadeloupe in March.

Walter Zweifel reports.

"The talks involve all sectors of society and are modelled on the Estates General that preceded the French revolution. In a message distributed via the internet, President Nicolas Sarkozy has invited citizens living overseas to join the so-called etats generaux and speak their mind: 'I invite you to a debate without taboo.' The opposition's Gaston Flosse is dismissive of the initiative, saying more pressing is the catastrophic economic situation. Mr Temaru has already suggested to discuss the territory's name. One of his MPs, Sabrina Birk, says the new French president wants change: 'I think there is a will to listen and find solutions.' Submission can also be made to a website dedicated to the etats generaux."