7 Oct 2004

French Polynesia may head towards fresh elections

5:25 pm on 7 October 2004

The French Polynesian president, Oscar Temaru, says he will seek the dissolution of parliament if the opposition refuses to withdraw no-confidence motions.

Mr Temaru's new coalition government is facing two motions of no confidence, signed by a total of 29 of the 57-member territorial assembly.

The no-confidence motions are to be put to the vote within the next 48 hours.

The motions may pass unless independent MPs who defected from the coalition recently change their minds and return to the coalition fold.

A coalition MP, Myron Mataoa, concedes there seems little chance of this, but he says the plan is to talk to he independents into withdrawing their support.

He says if they refuse and the four-month-old government falls, Mr Temaru will ask France to dissolve the assembly so new elections can be held.

Mr Mataoa says Mr Temaru issued his ultimatum to journalists today.

"Mr Temaru has that said if things go on as the Tahoeraa Huiraatira or as the opposition would like to pursue on, we'll go on asking for the dissolution of the assembly itself. That means if the dissolution is accepted, we'll be going into a new election for the renewal of the whole of the assembly of 57 members."

Mr Mataoa says if the vote is put and the motions pass, it will be up to the French Government whether it accepts a new government or agrees to fresh elections.

Business interests in French Polynesia say fresh elections are needed now to end the uncertainty that continues to dampen business activity.

Guilloux Abner of the Chamber of Commerce says businesses, particularly those involved with building, have found the new government slow to make decisions.

And Mr Abner says new territorial elections would be the best way to resolve political instability that's providing added uncertainty for businesses.

I think that it is better now to have new elections to make things more clear because if we continue now there is a government by one people that may change tomorrow.

Gilloux Abner.