French Polynesia votes to become full member of Forum

French Polynesia's assembly has voted in favour of the territory becoming a full member of the Pacific Islands Forum.

The vote was 47 in favour, with ten members abstaining.

An extraordinary sitting of the assembly was called to advance the formal steps for the territory to join the Forum which needs to be coordinated with France as it represents French Polynesia internationally.

The pro-independence opposition, which declined to vote, expressed surprise that Paris authorises French Polynesia to join the Forum while never ceding to it powers in terms of foreign affairs and security.

An opposition politician Richared Tuheiava says his side cannot approve French interests to encroach on French Polynesia's interests.

Mr Tuheiava also expressed his dismay at France continuing to ignore the UN-mandated decolonisation process.

After years of lobbying, the French Pacific territories were admitted as full members last year without the Forum explaining the change and nature of the accession criteria.

Full membership was first suggested by the French president Jacques Chirac in 2003 - seven years after France stopped testing its nuclear weapons in the Pacific.

The next Forum summit will be held in Samoa next month.