13 Oct 2004

New bid to break French Polynesian election impasse

3:40 pm on 13 October 2004

The third vice-president of French Polynesia's territorial assembly has called a meeting for tomorrow morning to set a date for fresh presidential elections.

Lana Tetuanui's move came after the head of the assembly, Antony Geros, failed to set a date despite being sent two letters in 2 days by the French high commissioner advising him of his duty to lay out the process.

The government fell three days ago in disputed circumstances and talks between the rival sides have failed to agree on the next step.

The head of French Polynesia's largest non-governmental organisation says the Temaru Government has been a disappointment to many Tahitians.

In speeches in the Territorial Assembly before the coalition's fall, government ministers said the government was young and needed more time to deliver.

This is rejected by Gabriel Tetiarahi, the head of the Hiti Tau group that works for youth.

"I disagree totally because Oscar Temaru is a member of the Parliament since 82. Jacqui Drollet, the vice president has been already a member of the Parliament in 1977. Jean Marius Raapoto had been already a member of the Parliament. They have experience. They have been in the Parliament since more than twenty years."

Mr Tetiarahi says Tahitians are asking how coalition members Nicole Bouteau and Philippe Schyle persuaded Mr Temaru not to pursue independence now.

He says Tahitians are acutely disappointed about this and his government's failure to discuss the environmental effects of French nuclear testing in the territory, or to deliver on his promises to return land to its original owners.

The political crisis in Tahiti has been debated in the French parliament, with the government restating its refusal to approve fresh general elections.

The opposition Socialists have also rejected the government's claim that the ousted Temaru coalition was chosen only by a minority of voters.

A Socialist MP, Rene Dosiere, says the French refusal to accept the overthrow of the Flosse system in May puts peace in Tahiti at risk and gives France a bad image in Pacific countries.

The minister in charge of overseas territories, Brigitte Girardin, has accused the opposition of wanting to shed the French colonies.

I am deeply attached to keeping Polynesia within France and I cannot associate myself with a permanent attempt of the Socialist Party to drop the overseas territories.

The Greens in France have now also called for fresh elections and the Socialists say they will send a delegation to Tahiti.