FRENCH POLYNESIA PRESIDENT FLOSSE LASHES OUT AT FRENCH SOCIALIST GOVERNMENT

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PAPEETE, French Polynesia (April 17, 2000 – Oceania Flash/SPC)---French Polynesia President Gaston Flosse has accused the French socialist government of trying to "bargain away" the French territory for the benefit of pro-independence parties, it was reported on Saturday.

Speaking during debate in French Polynesia's Territorial Assembly on Thursday, Flosse was reacting to recent suggestions from the French government that there should be only a single French Polynesia constituency, instead of the current five, one for each major group of islands.

The proposal originally was made by ruling Socialist party secretary general François Hollande, who approved of the single constituency suggestion raised by pro-independence parliamentarian for French Polynesia Emile Vernaudon.

Vernaudon, who last week was on a trip to Paris as part of a pro-independence delegation, wanted the amendment to be made to the electoral rules in the French territory effective with the next territorial polling.

"I won't let them do that. . . .It is out of the question that the electoral law should be fiddled with only because the Socialist party has decided to topple (French Polynesia's) current majority," Flosse told the Territorial Assembly.

Flosse also questioned French Overseas Minister Jean-Jack Queyranne, who recently was on a consultation tour in French Polynesia.

"Talks seemed to be good and . . .common work to strengthen autonomy seemed to take place in a climate of mutual loyalty. So what happened?"

"Mr. Queyranne, have (you) betrayed the trust that French Polynesia had placed in you?" he asked.

"In what sort of status do you hold us, Polynesians, who keep expressing our will to remain French? We are Polynesian, fully, and we have struggled so that our institutions allow us to remain that way. We are Polynesians, proud of ourselves and of (our) political freedom. But we are French too."

"The Polynesian people, who in large majority, have always rejected independence, will not let you do that. You will not bargain (French) Polynesia behind the scenes".

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