Polynesian Assembly asks France to organize referendum on self-determination

Pro-autonomy president wants to use the vote to show that Polynesians reject secession · Pro-independence opposition wants a "decolonization process" to be organized prior to the vote and proposes to establish a federal, sovereign Polynesia

The Polynesian Assembly yesterday adopted a resolution that asks the president of the French Republic to "implement the self-determination procedure" so that a referendum may be called in this French overseas country. The resolution was backed by 46 pro-autonomy AMs in the Polynesian Assembly, while 11 pro-independence AMs decided to boycott the vote.

The resolution comes as an initiative by the pro-autonomy Polynesian government, led by Gaston Flosse after the last election that was held one month ago. Flosse wants a referendum to be immediately held as an answer to the reinscription of Polynesia into the UN list of non self-governing territories. The Polynesian president believes that there is a wide majority in Polynesia against independence, and wants to make this clear through an official popular vote. A recent opinion poll says that Polynesians overwhelmingly would reject secession in the event of a vote.

But pro-independence leader and former Polynesian president Oscar Temaru is against the move. Especially because the Polynesian Assembly adopted yesterday another resolution in which it is stated that Polynesia is already a self-governing territory within France. The resolution also asks the UN to reconsider the decision on the inscription of Polynesia into the UN list of non self-governing territories.

According to Temaru, there should be a "decolonization process" in Polynesia, and only after that a referendum should be held. The pro-independence leader also says that French newcomers to Polynesia should not be allowed to vote in the referendum. Flosse considers instead that all the current citizens of Polynesia -regardless if they were born there or not- should be eligible to vote.

Temaru proposes a federal Polynesian state

Thinking about a referendum scenario where "yes" would win, Temaru said to local broadcaster TNTV that the Pacific country should be established as the "Federated States of Polynesia". This would reflect Polynesia's internal diversity: the country is made up of five main archipelagos, where different indigenous languages are spoken (Tahitian, Marquesan, Tuamotuan, Mangarevan, Austral and Rapa).

(Image: Polynesian and French flags / Picture: FRED.)

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