French Diplomat Questions Tahiti Decolonization Bid

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Araud says issue should wait until elections are completed

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, March 1, 2013) – France's Permanent Representative to the United Nations says it's not appropriate for the United Nations to be dragged into French Polynesia's local election campaign.

French Polynesian President Oscar Temaru has travelled to New York to campaign for the territory's re-listing on the UN decolonization list.

French Polynesia's opposition says there has been no referendum in favor of Mr. Temaru's move.

French representative Gérard Araud says it would be better to put the issue on hold until after French Polynesia's elections.

"There is no emergency: the territory is peaceful, the democratic institutions are working smoothly and properly," he said.

"We do not think that it is very appropriate to use the United Nations in an electoral campaign for French Polynesia.

"I think the French Polynesians are going to vote between the end of April and the beginning of May [and] it would be more proper and more democratic to wait for the French Polynesians to vote so that we can go back to this debate after the elections, in April/May."

France removed French Polynesia from the UN list in 1947.

New Caledonia, another French Pacific territory, was reinscribed in the 1980s and is due to hold a referendum on independence in 2014.

Mr. Araud says France is in a cooperative mood when it comes to French Polynesia, but there are still issues to be worked through.

"If necessary we are ready for ourselves to reaffirm the rights of the Polynesians to self-determination," he said.

"We are totally open to that, but the question of re-inscription on a list is an issue which is an issue not only for France, because we have several members of the Non Aligned Movement who have objections to this proposal."

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