French Polynesia President’s visit to the Pope ridiculed


The opposition party in French Polynesia is ridiculing President Édouard Fritch’s proposed visit to Pope Francis.

The comment comes just hours after confirmation that Fritch will join a Pacific Islands Forum delegation to meet Pope Francis at the Vatican next month. The forum coincides with the COP23 climate change conference in Germany.

The pro-independence opposition party, Tavini Huiraatira, said it wondered whether it was the same Édouard Fritch who, for 30 years, defended the French nuclear weapons tests as being clean.

It also pointed out that Fritch castigated the Tavini politician Antony Geros for hanging a crucifix on the territorial assembly wall in 2004.

It added that Fritch has been urging a separation of the state from the church.

Fritch is the former son-in-law of the veteran French Polynesia politician and five-times president 86-year-old Gaston Flosse.

He was the second in command in Flosse’s pro-France Tahoeraa Huiraatira party and his heir-apparent. But the two have subsequently fallen out.

Fritch’s supporters went on to form a new party, the Tapura Huiraatira. Flosse’s party has since lost more than half its deputies to it.

Fritch became president of French Polynesia in September 2014 after his predecessor Flosse was forced to resign over a conviction for corruption.

Flosse had stepped aside after failing to secure a pardon from President Francois Hollande over the conviction which was upheld by France’s highest court in August 2014.

Flosse was convicted for running a vast network of phantom jobs to support his political party in one of the biggest cases of its kind in French legal history.

He was sentenced to a four-year suspended jail term, a large fine, and banned from public office for three years.

He recently announced he intends to stand in the 2018 elections

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News category: Asia Pacific.

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