31 May 2004

French Polynesian opposition leader to stand in presidential election

11:26 am on 31 May 2004

The leader of French Polynesia's opposition coalition, Oscar Temaru, has announced that he will be a candidate in next week's election of a new president.

The move comes after last Monday's surprise losses of the ruling party in the parliamentary elections.

His move came after an announcement that his pro-independence Tavini Huiraatira party had agreed to form a new government with two small opposition parties which had been campaigning for continued autonomy.

Mr Temaru says these differences are being put aside to create a common political programme.

He says this will includes an audit of the administration's finances in order to govern with transparency.

He has also proposed suspending a major highway project on Tahiti and revisiting the island's new hospital project.

Mr Temaru has called on the territory's members of the French parliament to join him for proposed talks in Paris with the French president, Jacques Chirac, to seek France's help in maintaining economic stability.

Mr Chirac's ally in French Polynesia, President Gaston Flosse, has appealed to the two pro-autonomy opposition parties to renege on their deal with Mr Temaru and give him the one seat needed to retain the presidency.