FRENCH POLYNESIA– French Polynesia’s pro-independence leader Oscar Temaru has welcomed the low turnout in last weekend’s first round of the French presidential election, saying it was a win for his party. Temaru called for a boycott and 61 per cent of voters stayed away, which was the lowest turnout ever recorded in Tahiti. Having failed in a bid to be a candidate himself, Temaru told a news conference he would have secured 50,000 votes had he been able to run. Temaru also called on his supporters to skip the run-off election on May 7 and then to vote for his Tavini Huiraatia Party’s candidates in the French National Assembly election in June. However Temaru said he would prefer Emmanuel Macron to be president over Marine Le Pen, noting that Macron had described French colonisation as a crime against humanity.
FIJI WANTS TO BE DEALT IN ON PACER PLUS
FIJI – Fiji’s trade minister Faiyaz Koya says Fiji will approach Australia after missing out on last week’s conclusion of the Pacer Plus talks in Brisbane. The trade and development deal was finalised without Fiji and Papua New Guinea, which are the biggest Pacific Island countries. The agreement is due to be signed in Tonga in June. Koya told parliament that next week, the prime minister Frank Bainimarama will outline Fiji’s stance when he meets his Australian counterpart Malcom Turnbull. Koya said because the agreement has not been signed yet, Fiji would continue to negotiate and demand its rights until they are satisfied that Pacer Plus is in Fiji’s interest and does not constrain its potential for development. He said he missed the Brisbane meeting because the notice came very late and because it clashed with earlier commitments.
SEA-GOERS TOLD TO BE BETTER PREPARED
TONGA – The Tongan police have urged fishers and boat owners to make sure they have the necessary safety gear, including communication tools in case anything goes wrong at sea. This follows the successful search for a fisherman who went missing for three days after setting off on Saturday from Manuka. The man Tupouniua Veamatahau was found on Tuesday after an international search involving the New Zealand Air Force. Tonga Broadcasting reports he did not have any communication tools on board. He was found in a life-raft waving his paddles after he had attempted to row to safety.