PRESIDENCY OF FRENCH POLYNESIA

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Communication Department
Pape‘ete, French Polynesia

March 21, 2001

Response to the article "Pro-independence party does well in Tahiti", on March 15th, 2001

It has come to our attention that the Pacific Islands Report edited an article entitled "Pro-independence party does well in Tahiti", on March 15th, 2001.

This article could clearly be considered as an attempt from the opposition to destabilise the Government in place, led by the President Gaston Flosse. It bluntly presents French Polynesia as a growing pro-independent territory. The article is indeed based on an interview with Thea Hershon, deputy president of the independent party.

Her statements are totally unfounded, giving therefore no credentials whatsoever to your paper, on the analysis of the political situation in French Polynesia.

However, we wish to bring to your attention the Government’s point of view on the results of these elections, as well as on Mrs. Hershon’s comments.

"Oscar Temaru was re-elected by an overwhelming majority …. Temaru’s return as mayor of Faa‘a is a big step forward for the independence …. Despite of the huge advantage the other candidate had over Temaru, he won again by a large margin."

Oscar Temaru indeed won the elections with 58% of the votes, up against Jean Christophe Bouissou (35%), the candidate of the majority. However, this percentage does not indicate in any ways that "Temaru’s return, as mayor of Faa‘a, is a big step forward for the independence movement". His party actually scored less than the last municipal elections in 1995, where he scored 69% of the votes. On the other hand, the candidate of the majority increased his scores, jumping from 21% in 1995 elections to 35% of the votes in 2001.

"This was quite surprising because he (the mayor of Pape‘ete) had the support of the president of the government. But people are unhappy the way the city of Pape‘ete has been developed. It has been developed only for tourists and not for the benefit of the citizens."

The elections at the capital city of Pape‘ete saw Michel Buillard re-elected mayor by a large margin (52.41% of the votes up against 9.41% for the independent party). Unlike what Mrs. Hershon may think, the results clearly showed how the population is happy with the way the city has grown in the last years, particularly with the new development on the waterfront.

The government acknowledges that the results in the municipal elections showed a bipolarisation of the political life. According to the figures, the party of the president Gaston Flosse (the Tahoera‘a Huira‘atira) scored on one hand 55% of the votes in total. On the other hand, the party of Oscar Temaru (the Tavini Huira‘atira), scored 18.47% of the votes, in total.

Unfortunately, this article does not portray, to the sense of the Government, the reality of the political life in Tahiti. That type of misleading information could eventually do great disservice to the image of ours islands and as a consequence to the economy of French Polynesia.

We feel that in order to avoid facing another similar situation, whereby inaccurate information is being displayed on the web, the Service of Communication of the Government Presidency could, with your agreement, provide your editor with news items, press releases and analysis, on the activity of the Government.

We understand that the opposition is trying to have the Pacific islands media on their side. However, the independent party is only a minority of the population. Portraying French Polynesia as a growing independent country could terribly damage our investment promotion department, and affecting eventually our economy.

To overcome this situation, we would very much like indeed to improve our communication network to the rest of the media in the Pacific, particularly with those that have direct access to the Internet.

Yours sincerely,

For the Head of the Communication Department President’s Office

Tepuanui Snow Email: tepuanui.snow@presidence.pf 

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