8 May 2013

Tahiti tussle over UN decolonisation bid

4:34 pm on 8 May 2013

The incoming French Polynesian government is expected to approach Paris in a bid to thwart any attempts to decolonise the territory.

The outgoing government of Oscar Temaru campaigned for the territory's re-inscription on the UN decolonisation list and is hopeful a resolution to that end will be adopted by the General Assembly shortly.

Walter Zweifel has this report.

ZWEIFEL: That is Gaston Flosse, the leader of the Tahoeraa Huiraatira, speaking on local television just hours after his party's election victory was made official.

He says the first assembly session will adopt a resolution, asking the French President to intervene at the UN and to seek to annul the bid made by Mr Temaru.

While the resolution aims to enshrine the right to self-determination, Mr Flosse says independence will be the end of Polynesia.

Richard Tuheiava of the pro-independence Union For Democracy and a member of the French Senate says he has no reason to believe that countries such as Solomon Islands, Nauru and Tuvalu will withdraw their support for the decolonisation bid.

"As far as the resolutions already submitted, we have a big deal of trust that it won't be dismissed or pulled out by any other government. Our understanding of the process is that the Maohi Nui government is no longer possessing or owning the resolution and the process, it's now in the hands of our sponsors."

As to the announcement of Mr Flosse that the assembly will still try to derail the process, Mr Tuheiava doubts it will have any impact.

I don't think, first, that there will be strong listening coming from our sponsors, number one, nor the other group within the GA, regarding this, because we're not talking about who is winning or not, the elections in French Polynesia, which is still a French overseas collectivity, but much more how to reactivate the DNA of the United Nations, which is the self-determination right. And we have won now 40,000 voices in favour of the self-determination exercise and rights. It is now becoming a real aspiration, a legitimate aspiration coming from Maohi Nui to be provided and advocated at the United Nations level. And I must also remember and recall that in New Caledonia in 1986 the resolution was not supported neither by the government nor the congress in New Caledonia because Jacques Lafleur was against it strongly.

Speaking on the eve of the election, Mr Temaru had no concern that the resolution was at risk.

There's no link between this election and the re-inscription for our country at the United Nations.

A debate and vote in the General Assembly is expected during the current session which still has several months to run.

In Papeete, I'm Walter Zweifel.