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  • French Polynesia
  • Lorenz Gonschor (bio)

Reviews of American Sāmoa, the Cook Islands, Hawai‘i, Niue, Tokelau, Tonga, and Tuvalu are not included in this issue.

French Polynesia

The period under review saw great changes taking place in French Polynesia. The United Nations General Assembly (unga) voted to relist the country as a non-self-governing territory, the first instance for that body to do so since it relisted New Caledonia in 1986 (France had unilaterally delisted both countries in 1947). However, the people whose lobbying led to this decision—pro-independence politician Oscar Temaru and his supporters—lost the leadership of the country to their former (temporary) ally and now once again archenemy Gaston Flosse, whose party swept the territorial elections in May 2013. After Flosse won a two-thirds majority in the French Polynesia Assembly under the new voting system, his return to power as a quasi-absolute ruler also drew to a close a decade of political instability.

At the start of the review period, the international lobbying efforts by the Temaru government had been going on intensively for months and culminated in the hosting of two major international meetings. On 5 July 2012, Temaru hosted the meeting of the Asia-Pacific Forum of the Club of Madrid, a group of former government leaders and businessmen predominantly from Western countries. A week later, from 12 to 13 July, Temaru’s Tavini Huiraatira party hosted an international forum of experts from other governments, the United Nations, and academia on the topic of postcolonial nation building, appropriately named “Build Me a Nation” (left untranslated into French or Tahitian). The open workshop, which was well attended by the public, featured presentations by Algerian diplomat Mourad Ahmia, executive secretary of the g-77 (the caucus of developing countries within the United Nations); the roving ambassador of Fiji to the Pacific Island countries, Litia Mawi; Hawaiian political scientist Keanu Sai, leader of the acting government of the Hawaiian Kingdom since 1996 (Hawaiian Government blog); two Kanak leaders from New Caledonia; and a Canadian economist. These invited experts shared their knowledge and experience with various aspects of decolonization in other countries in order to help French Polynesia develop a way to function as a nation-state in the future (ti, 13 July 2013).

As usual, both meetings were strongly criticized by the pro-French opposition, especially the leading opposition party Tahoeraa Huiraatira (in English, “Popular Rally”), led by Gaston Flosse. Concerning the Club of Madrid meeting, Tahoeraa accused the Temaru government of selling out the country to Australian multimillionaire businessman Clive Palmer, one of the most prominent and publicly visible participants in the meeting, who made [End Page 192] promises to invest in the country (ti, 18 July 2013). As for the “Build Me a Nation” forum, Flosse’s party once more focused their criticism on the close relations of Temaru’s government, especially Senator Richard Tuheiava, with the current government of Fiji. A military dictatorship, Flosse argued, could not be a good ally in a struggle to achieve freedom. Tuheiava countered, however, that the government of Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama was not comparable with typical dictatorships since unlike in most military-ruled nations—and unlike in French Polynesia—the Fiji tourism industry was booming. He jokingly said that this meant it could not be such a bad dictatorship (ti, 11 July 2013). In line with this reasoning, Tuheiava attended the third “Engaging with the Pacific” leaders meeting from 23 to 24 August in Nadi, Fiji, to represent the government of French Polynesia (ti, 24 Aug 2012).

International awareness-raising and lobbying events like the “Build Me a Nation” forum achieved visible success, when the Non-Aligned Movement (the political counterpart to the economically focused g-77) voted unanimously to support the reinscription of French Polynesia as a non-self-governing territory. This success at the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Iran from 26 to 31 August was achieved in large part thanks to support from Fiji and other Melanesian member states.

On the other hand, the Pacific Islands Forum (pif), which held its annual meeting from 28 to 30 August in Rarotonga, in its communiqué “reiterated their support for the principle of French...


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