22 Jan 2013

Hollande to visit Tahiti on date yet to be set

4:25 pm on 22 January 2013

The French overseas territories minister, Victorin Lurel, has announced that the president, Francois Hollande, will visit French Polynesia but he gave no date.

Mr Lurel was speaking at the end of his visit to Tahiti and Manihi which was shortened from three days to a few hours because of his mother's sudden death in his home territory of Guadeloupe.

The last French president to visit Tahiti was Jacques Chirac ten years ago.

Mr Lurel has taken note of the French Polynesian government's push to re-inscribe the territory on the UN decolonisation list, saying this is not the president's personal option.

He says the issue should wait until after the territorial election in three months and be treated as an intra-French matter along procedures of mutual respect.

Last week, the French Polynesian president, Oscar Temaru, addressed the Non-Aligned Movement in New York in a bid to get the UN General Assembly's backing.

Campaigning for decades on the subject, Mr Temaru sharply criticised France for using his territory to test its nuclear weapons, saying Polynesians were used like laboratory rats.