New elections called in French Polynesia

28th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 27 (AFP) - A political crisis in French Polynesia moved closer to solution Saturday with the agreement of both sides to hold new elections throughout the sprawling Pacific territory.

PARIS, Nov 27 (AFP) - A political crisis in French Polynesia moved closer to solution Saturday with the agreement of both sides to hold new elections throughout the sprawling Pacific territory.

France's minister for overseas territories Brigitte Girardin, current Polynesia president Gaston Flosse and former pro-independence president Oscar Temaru, decided that the whole of the archipelago's parliament should be subject to a new vote in talks that began last Tuesday.

A statement said new elections would require parliamentary legislation, which would be discussed from Monday, provided that Temaru and his supporters quit the presidential offices he has continued to occupy despite his defeat by Flosse on October 22.

The statement called for calm in the territory but gave no date for the proposed new elections and indicated that the two sides were still at odds.

Temaru was elected the first pro-independence president of French Polynesia in May, ousting the veteran Flosse, but he lost his wafer-thin parliamentary majority with the defection of a supporter and was defeated in a subsequent vote of no confidence.

Flosse, 73, who is a member of the Senate in Paris and a longstanding ally of President Jacques Chirac, has governed French Polynesia for 16 out of the last 20 years and has established a well-honed political fiefdom.

Supporters of Temaru and France's opposition Socialists accuse him of being a corrupt Chirac stooge.

France's state council - the highest administrative court - annulled the results of the May elections in the main islands of Tahiti and Moorea, which send 37 members to the 57-seat territorial assembly, on November 15, citing irregularities in some polling stations.

Saturday's statement said Flosse's side said the new partial elections, which are set to to take place by February 13, should be held before the overall poll agreed Saturday, while Temaru called for general elections as soon as possible, which would absorb the revoting ordered by the State Council.

The two parties also differed on the method of voting to be used, with Temrau seeking a return to the system in force before the May elections, which followed a new law on Polynesia's status.

Chirac's government is eager to find a solution to the crisis, which risks spinning into strikes that would harm the territory's already highly dependent economy.

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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