4 Jun 2004

French Polynesia Assembly elects its new President

11:05 am on 4 June 2004

French Polynesia's Assembly has elected a pro-independence politician as its new President or Speaker

Antony Geros has been elected by a one vote majority over Emile Vernaudun

Yves Sage, a law professor at the University of French Polynesia in Tahiti, says the result is a boost for Oscar Temeru's pro-independence grouping which has a majority in the Assembly.

He says Mr Geros is a close deputy of Mr Temeru's and his election is an important step for the pro-independence agenda.

"it is true that Mr Geros, as soon as he has been elected, has invited members of the FLNKS to attend the ceremony. It was for the first time that members of the FLNKS were invited. He didn't speak about independence but Mr Geros is clearly representative of the Independence party."

The Assembly election result comes as two squadrons of French riot police arrive in the territory.

The French High Commission in Papeete says the 300 police officers are there as reinforcements for the local police.

A spokesman for President Gaston Flosse, Yves Haupert, says despite the arrival of the police, he is not expecting any trouble in next weeks election for the territory's new President and he says if there is any, it won't be caused by their party.

There is a possibility that there is trouble, not if Oscar Temaru is elected as President, but in the other case, if he don't win the 10th June, it's possible there are some people around him, not Oscar Temaru himself, but some people from his party decided to make some trouble in the town especially near the Assembly.

Meanwhile, in Paris, France's overseas minister has denied reports that she threatened to withdraw the supply of money to French Polynesia.

A statement from the office of Brigitte Girardin denies threats were made to discuss state credits intended for its overseas territory.

The minister's statement was prompted by questions from the French socialist MP Rene Dosiere, who had asked Mrs Girardin to confirm whether or not France would provide ongoing money supply to French Polynesia.