French Polynesia’s Temaru wins crucial backing

15th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

PAPEETE, Feb 15 (AFP) - French Polynesia's pro-independence grouping Union for Democracy (UPLD) received a boost when a newly elected deputy of another party joined it, but the pro-France camp said it had no intention of recognising defeat.

PAPEETE, Feb 15 (AFP) - French Polynesia's pro-independence grouping Union for Democracy (UPLD) received a boost when a newly elected deputy of another party joined it, but the pro-France camp said it had no intention of recognising defeat.

UPLD now commands 28 seats in the 57-strong territorial assembly.

The pro-France party of current President Gaston Flosse has won 27 seats.

Patricia Jennings of the Alliance for a New Democracy (ADN) joined Oscar Temaru's UPLD late Monday.

"I have personally been in contact with Mrs Patricia Jennings this morning. She herself called me to confirm she was joining the UPLD, thus making it 28 seats for us," Temaru said in a televised statement.

Temaru, whose party swept to victory in Sunday's by-elections in two islands, said he was optimistic over the possibility of getting an absolute majority of 29 seats, noting that he was in contact with another ADN deputy.

However, Flosse's camp said he was in no mood to quit and that contacts were underway to form an alliance with ADN deputies.

"I can tell you today that Mr Flosse is not in any mood" to throw in the towel," a close advisor told AFP late Monday.

"It is now that the card game begins in earnest and each side is hiding his hand," the advisor said.

He spoke of a "race against time" with the UPLD to get the ADN group's backing.

The by-elections were called after France's state council - the highest administrative court - last year annulled the results of May 2004 elections in Tahiti and Moorea, citing irregularities in some polling stations.

Lying some 17,000 kilometres (10,500 miles) from France, Polynesia consists of five archipelagos and 118 islands spread over an area the size of Europe. Annexed by France in 1880, the territory lives on tourism, fishing and handouts from Paris.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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