17 Sep 2004

French Polynesia government faces crisis

3:20 pm on 17 September 2004

The new government in French Polynesia concedes it is facing a crisis sparked by four rebel MPs who today boycotted Parliament in a bid to become ministers.

The territory's Legislative Assembly was postponed today for lack of a quorum after the Union for Democracy MPs, part of the governing coalition, walked out.

The MPs are Hiro Tefaarere, Ronald Terorotua, Noa Tetuanui and Jean-Alain Frebault.

The opposition Tahoeraa Huiraatira party, led by former president Gaston Flosse, says the new president, Oscar Temaru, can no longer claim a majority.

This is rejected, however, by a government spokesman, Claude Marere, who says talks are taking place and a way will be found to continue in government.

"Yes this is a crisis, of course. But this is a crisis which can be resolved. We can find a solution. You will know more tomorrow."

Mr Marere says the four MPs want to be given ministries within the Government, but Mr Temaru has pledged to reduce MPs' salaries and the number of MPs.

Mr Marere says he does not know what Mr Temaru will do, but thinks he will seek to find some other way of meeting some of the rebel MPs' demands.

An observer and ex advisor to the former French Polynesian Government says an apparent threat to the new Government is just politics as normal.

Alec Ata says he's not concerned about the boycott by four rebel MPs.

According to what I heard, I saw and read in the paper particularly, it doesn't seem to me that they want to break up. There may be some new arrangement inside the current majority but this happens everywhere.

Mr Ata says claims of a lack of majority may be wishful thinking by Mr Flosse.

And he says that Mr Temaru has reduced the number of government ministries by about 50 percent so there may be room to accommodate the MPs' demands.