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By Antoine Samoyeau in Pape’ete

About 3000 activists of French Polynesia’s pro-independence Tavini Huiraatira party met for six hours at the weekend with the executives insisting that they were “united’ after a recent upheaval over leadership.

The party also presented a “renewed” slate of 73 candidates for next month’s territorial elections which includes many new and younger faces in the lineup for the ballot on April 16 and 30.

Party chair Oscar Temaru got the ball rolling at Motu Ovini in Faa’a on Saturday. Appearing tired, he nevertheless remained on the stage for the entire congress along with the other party executives.

Antony Géros, the party’s number two, delivered a long-awaited speech after the recent party rift over the candidacy of Moetai Brotherson for the territorial presidency if the party wins the elections.

“It created a stir in the party because the Tony-Moetai divide started to be felt. And it was necessary to sort that out,” he explained after his speech.

Calling for “union”, “unity” and even respect for the new vision of “rising youth ” within the party, Géros ruled out any hint of a possible challenge to Brotherson’s candidacy.

A call for unity was also echoed in the two speeches by young deputies Tematai Le Gayic and Steve Chailloux in the French National Assembly, both once again impressive in their mastery of public speaking.

Tavini Huiraatira leaders Antony Géros, Oscar Temaru and Moetai Brotherson
Tavini Huiraatira leaders Antony Géros, Oscar Temaru and Moetai Brotherson . . . patching up their differences befire next month’s territorial elections. Image: Tahiti Infos

Tributes by Brotherson
The third and leading deputy Brotherson, emphasised respect and gave tributes to the “elders” of Tavini huiraatira.

“It’s something to walk in the footsteps of these giants,” he said, before also paying tribute to the man who was his chief-of-staff between 2011 and 2013 — Antony Géros.

There were obviously wounds to be patched up.

Temaru, five times a former president of French Polynesia, will lead the candidates list for section 3 (Faa’a, Punaauia).

Géros, mayor of Paea, will lead section 2 (Mahina, Hitia’a o te Ra, Taiarapu East and West, Teva i Uta, Papara and Paea).

Deputy Brotherson heads of the Leeward Islands section.

Section 1 (Papeete, Pirae, Arue, Moorea) will be led by the young deputy Temata’i Le Gayic.

Elections treated as ‘referendum’
RNZ Pacific reports that Temaru had said last December that he would treat the elections as if they would be an independence referendum.

He said that if his party won the election by a large margin, he questioned the point in holding a vote on independence from France.

Temaru said in the case of such a victory he would visit neighbouring Pacific countries and the United Nations to secure support for French Polynesia’s sovereignty.

He said Kosovo and Vanuatu became independent countries without a referendum.

In the last territorial election in 2018, the Tavini won less than 20 percent of the seats, but in the French National Assembly election in June, it secured all three of French Polynesia’s seats in the run-off round.

Brotherson has questioned Temaru’s stance, saying a local election should not be “mixed up” with a decolonisation process under the auspices of the United Nations.

In 2013, the UN General Assembly re-inscribed the French territory on its decolonisation list, but Paris has rejected the decision and keeps boycotting the annual decolonisation committee’s debate on French Polynesia.

While France has partially cooperated with the UN on the decolonisation of New Caledonia, the French government has ignored calls by the Tavini to invite the UN to assess the territory’s situation.

Republished from Tahiti-Infos and RNZ Pacific with permission.

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