TAHITI CELEBRATES INTERNAL AUTONOMY

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Festival operating on reduced budget

PAPEÉTE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, June 25, 2008) - Tahiti will celebrate the annual Internal Autonomy Festival on Sunday, but with nearly half last year’s budget to save money during the present difficult economic times, the Tong Sang government announced Monday.

However, a full day of events has been planned for this year despite a budget of 6.9 million French Pacific francs (US$92,000/€57,822) instead of last year’s nearly 13 million French Pacific francs (US$173,333/€108,940).

Culture Minister Joseph Kaiha announced nearly 3,000 people are scheduled to participate in the annual Internal Autonomy Festival parade through downtown Papeete to the French Polynesia presidency. Highlights also include a public cocktail party at the presidency and free music concerts at Place Vaiete and Place To’Ata in Papeete.

For French Polynesia President Gaston Tong Sang, who is in power for the second time since 2006 to 2007, this will be his second consecutive Internal Autonomy Festival. The celebrations will begin at 3 pm at the Internal Autonomy Monument with prayers, singing of the French National Anthem and the French Polynesia Anthem and speeches by political officials. Red and white balloons will be released into the air following the ceremony. But at night, last year’s fireworks program has been eliminated this year. Miss Tahiti 2008 and other beauty contest winners so far this year will ride in a flower-decorated float during the parade, which also is expected to include the participation of several communes that have been asked to join in this colorful celebration.

At the French Polynesia presidency, each commune will present President Tong Sang with gifts in keeping with a long-standing tradition. The president will decorate new members of the Tahiti Nui Order and deliver a speech. The cocktail party will feature music by the group Nuku a Haka from the Marquesas Islands.

Elsewhere in downtown Papeete, a local group will stage a concert at Place Vaiete, using as its theme the "Tahiti of Yesteryear". The concert will be held from 6 to 10 pm. At Place To’Ata, several different contemporary groups will perform from 7 to 10 p.m.

Meanwhile, Tahiti’s pro-independence supporters will stage their own traditional and unrelated celebration on Sunday, since they consider June 29 as a day of mourning.

An exhibition entitled "Resistances and Resignations" will be held in the hall of the French Polynesia Assembly. The same theme will be used for round table discussions on Wednesday and Thursday among several personalities, include a sociologist, a ethnologist and an historian.

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