Pro-independence party wins elections in French Polynesia
The Tavini huiraatira party, led by the previous head of the overseas territory Oscar Temaru, will hold an absolute majority in the regional assembly.
Pro-independence forces won elections on France's Pacific territory of French Polynesia, which means they will have control of affairs on the archipelagos for the upcoming five years and paving the way to a possible referendum on their status, as per results published Monday.
After receiving 44.3% of the vote in the second round of voting on Sunday, the Tavini huiraatira party, led by the previous head of the overseas territory Oscar Temaru, will have an absolute majority in the regional assembly.
Moetai Brotherson, 53, is anticipated to lead the regional government.
The outcome will give the pro-independence forces the opportunity to pressure the French government into negotiating a referendum on the status of the territory, which is located well to the northeast of New Zealand and has a population of about 280,000.
"We are not going to be independent tomorrow or next week," Brotherson said as quoted by television channel TNTV.
"I have no problem working with the (French) state and that will not change tomorrow," he added.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who is responsible for the overseas territories, said Polynesians "voted for change" and the French government recognized their "democratic choice".
However, the outcome is a setback for President Emmanuel Macron's administration, which wants to portray France as a major player in the Pacific region because of its strategically important overseas territories.
French Polynesia's status has never been put to a vote in France. In New Caledonia, its other significant Pacific colony, referenda on independence have frequently been rejected.
It is unprecedented that the pro-independence forces will govern French Polynesia with an overall majority, having on previous occasions been forced into fragile alliances.
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