Plea to join France falls on deaf ears

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The Independent Online
Papeete (Reuters) - Following the lead of unhappy residents of the Comoros group, some dissatisfied denizens of French Polynesia are now seeking closer ties to France for their island.

Lucien Kimitete, mayor of the South Pacific island of Nuku Hiva, urged Paris at the weekend to transform the Marquesas islands, part of the semi- autonomous French Polynesia, into a full-fledged part of France as an overseas department.

"Polynesia's autonomous status does not inspire our confidence. There is a risk, in our eyes, that the territory could become independent," Mr Kimitete told Jean-Jack Queyranne, French junior minister for overseas territories. But Mr Queyranne flatly ruled out departmental status for Nuku Hiva.

Support for complete independence from France is confined to a vocal minority in French Polynesia, which is heavily dependent on French financial support. Department status would mean significantly more aid for the island group.

Two of the three Indian Ocean islands of the Islamic Republic of Comoros have recently declared their independence from the republic and asked to return to French rule.