8 Mar 2010

Suggestion to declare French Polynesia independent in order to challenge compensation law

6:43 am on 8 March 2010

French Polynesia's opposition leader, Oscar Temaru, has proposed declaring French Polynesia a sovereign and independent state in order to take France to the international court of justice over its nuclear weapons tests in the South Pacific.

Mr Temaru made the comment after an extraordinary sitting of the territorial assembly to discuss the French compensation law adopted by Paris last December.

His party colleague, Antony Geros, described the French weapons tests between 1966 to 1996 as criminal acts against the people of Polynesia.

Their party refused to vote when the ruling coalition decided to express its opposition to the law, saying its coverage was too limited.

The assembly president, Philip Schyle, says although Mr Temaru was opposed to the French law, he refused to join the vote as he wanted to keep his side apart from the ruling coalition.

The law has been widely criticised for only considering a limited fallout zone for compensation claims and for failing to acknowledge any environmental damage from the atomic blasts.