While much of the Asia Pacific nervously awaits the change of administration in Washington, leaders in French Polynesia are worried about the outcome of the Republican Presidential primary in France. More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.
The center right republicans held their first ever primary election last weekend to settle on one candidate likely to face off in next year's Presidential election against Marine Le Pen, the candidate of the extreme right National Front. France and most of its overseas territories handed Francois Fillon a handsome victory, but French Polynesia supported his more moderate rival, Alain Juppe. Fillon proposes deep cuts in public spending; a major part of the French Polynesian economy and President Edouard Fritch told reporters in Tahiti that he was alarmed. Fritch supported Juppe in the primary, especially after he took the time to come and campaign in Tahiti.
Meanwhile, a delegation of mayors from the Marquesas Islands defied President Fritch, and went to Paris to explore a split with Tahiti. One of the mayors, Felix Barinas told French Television that the separation has been endorsed by all six mayors from the archipelago. President Fritch warned of dire consequences and noted that, on this one issue at least, his anti-independence party and pro-independence leader Oscar Temaru agree that fragmentation of French Polynesia is uncalled for. The Marquesas, more than a thousand miles northeast of Tahiti, complain of neglect from whomever happens to be in charge in Papae'ete and proposals to establish themselves as a separate French Territory go back at least as far as 2008.