9 Jun 2004

French Polynesia moves closer to leadership change

2:59 pm on 9 June 2004

French Polynesia is a step closer to an historic change of leader after France's highest court rejected a last ditch bid by the current president to stay in power.

France's Council of State has rejected an appeal by long serving President Gaston Flosse to overturn a vote by French Polynesia's assembly on a new speaker.

A spokeswoman for pro independence Opposition leader Oscar Temaru, the man expected to succeed Mr Flosse when the parliament votes for a new president tomorrow, says they heard of the French Council of State's decision earlier today.

The spokeswoman, Tea Hirshon, says they are very happy the court rejected Mr Flosse's appeal.

She says Mr Flosse still has an appeal before the local administrative tribunal on the legality of a vote by parliament to hold the presidential election on Friday.

That tribunal is to decide today and Mrs Hirshon says she is confident Mr Flosse will lose.

"Mr Flosse is trying to destabilise the situation and get people unhappy about this new government and hope to push the elections as far away as he can before maybe have a chance to destabilise etc."

Tea Hirshon says regardless of the tribunal's decision, the parliament will meet on Friday and elect a new president, which she is confident will be Mr Temaru.