Will France Amend Constitution for Tahitian?

church on Moorea
Church on Moorea, French Polynesia

French Polynesia’s territorial assembly has passed a resolution, asking France to change its Constitution and recognize Mahoi or Tahitian as a language that can be used in Parliamentary debates. Despite a local assembly and government, French Polynesia is a French overseas collectivity, so the local government has no competence in justice, education, security and defense, which are directly provided and administered by the Government of France, the Gendarmerie, and French military. The highest representative of the State in the territory is the High Commissioner of the Republic in French Polynesia. Its 300,000 people send two deputies to the French National Assembly and one senator to the French Senate, and they vote in the French presidential elections.

The resolution calls on the French president to amend the constitution, possibly as soon as in two weeks when the French legislature is convened for its Congress.

The bid follows last month’s French supreme court ruling to strike out two local laws about pension provisions because not all of the debate in the French Polynesian assembly had been in French.

The pro-independence opposition abstained from the vote, with one member rejecting the notion that Tahitians need to ask France to be allowed to use their own language.

Its leader, Oscar Temaru, added that he would prefer that French was banned in the assembly.

Currently, all debates in Tahiti have simultaneous translations and all records are kept in French.

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