‘I’m not begging’, Tahiti’s Brotherson tells France in prep for independence

Tahiti's President Moetai Brotherson
Tahiti's President Moetai Brotherson in Paris . . . he wants any process of self-determination to be arbitrated by the United Nations. Image: Polynésie 1ère TV screenshot APR

RNZ Pacific

French Polynesia’s new President Moetai Brotherson is in Paris for wide-ranging talks with the French government and the organisers of the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics.

His visit involves meetings with a range of ministers and officials to continue cooperation arrangements initiated by his predecessor.

“I’m not here to come begging,” Brotherson said, adding that he wanted to ensure that France was helping to decrease dependence on French financial transfers by developing French Polynesia as a country with its own resources.

He told the news site Outremers360 that he wants any process of self-determination to be arbitrated by the United Nations.

Restating a timeframe of up to 15 years until a referendum on independence, Brotherson said that it was not utopian.

“[French] Polynesia is as big as Europe, and in terms of population, it is [the size of] Montpellier”, he said, referring to the southern French city with its 300,000 inhabitants.

He said time needed to be taken to prepare, and by seeking independence “we will be able to take decisions with full responsibility”.

By contrast, he said the preceding pro-autonomy governments had the reflex to say that in the end, if they did not make the right decisions, they would turn to “mother” France.

Support for seabed mining ban
Brotherson met the State Secretary for the Sea Herve Berville who reconfirmed the French government’s support for a seabed mining ban.

Berville also reconfirmed that such a ban would also apply to French Polynesian waters.

Brotherson again expressed his unwavering support for next year’s Olympic surfing competition to be held in Tahiti.

After flooding in the area last month, French Polynesian Sports Minister Nahema Temarii cast doubt on Tahiti being able to go ahead with the competition.

However, the site manager of the Paris Olympics organising committee, as well as Brotherson, said the event would go ahead as planned.

After becoming President last month, Brotherson will this week officially relinquish his seat in the French National Assembly, to which he was re-elected last year when his pro-independence Tavini Huira’atira for the first time won all three available Paris seats.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

French gendarmes in Paris during Tahiti President Moetai Brotherson's official visit
French gendarmes in Paris during Tahiti President Moetai Brotherson’s official visit this week. Image: Polynésie 1ère screenshot APR
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