TAHITI WANTS FORUM SUPPORT FOR INDEPENDENCE

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, Aug. 5) – The President of French Polynesia, Oscar Temaru, is calling on other Pacific leaders to help get the territory back on the United Nations List of Non Self Governing Territories.

Temaru, who is leading a 10-member delegation, is hopeful that French Polynesia will be granted observer status at the Pacific Forum summit, which starts today in Apia, Samoa. But Mr Temaru says he will also be looking for more.

"We are here also to try to get the support of all the leaders," Temaru said. "I will meet Greg Urwin, the new general secretary of the Forum, and ask him to put the case of our country on the list, on the agenda."

Five political parties, including Mr Temaru’s Tavini Huiraatira and a trade union, have formed the United Party for Democrats and are calling for support for their push for self determination in what they call Te Ao Maohi, or the World of the Maohi.

They say they are seeking the opportunity for the people of Te Ao Maohi to live with dignity and freedom in their own land.

Temaru says it will be ten years before the territory will be ready for a referendum for independence in what is now French Polynesia.

He said with France soon to end a multi billion-dollar support program this year, there is a greater need to develop the territory’s economy before it will be ready for independence.

Mr Temaru says he hopes to see a doubling of tourism numbers to half a million a year within ten years.

But he says first the education system needs to produce more English speakers.

"We have a lot to do. Our country’s not ready to, to go ahead, in the area of developing tourism in our country. We have communication problems, that’s why when visitors come to Tahiti, they cannot communicate with our people, because our people don’t speak English, they speak French; it’s not their fault."

August 6, 2004

Radio New Zealand International: http://www.rnzi.com/

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