14 Oct 2004

French Polynesian political impasse continues

5:39 pm on 14 October 2004

The ousted government in French Polynesia says the opposition has failed in a bid to bring forward the date of the election, by parliament, of a new president.

29 MPs supporting the Tahoeraa Huiraatira and Te Ara groups met this morning and decided to hold a fresh presidential election in the Assembly on October the 19th.

The sitting was called by Lana Tetuanui who is the assembly's third vice president after being authorised by the French High Commissioner.

The Assembly president, Antony Geros, also attended the session and heard their demand.

But Claude Marere, the spokesman for ousted president, says Mr Geros rejected this date, reaffirming his commitment to a vote on October the 25th.

Mr Marere says the opposition wouldn't agree to this.

"They did not accept this, so Mr Geros closed the working meeting of the assembly and the Tahoeraa decide to take the decision but it's totally illegal - it's just a political party meeting, not an assembly meeting."

Mr Marere says the coalition also disputes whether the High Commission has the authority under the territory's new Autonomy Statute to bypass Mr Geros.

A coalition member, Nicole Bouteau of the No Oe O Te Nunaa Party, says the institutions of power cannot work, and the population is demanding fresh elections which can be called if France dissolves the assembly.

We want that President Jacques Chirac organise new elections, because actually the political situation in Tahiti is very difficult and it is no good for the country, it is no good for the economy, for the social politique, and we need to go to a new election.

Opposition parties in France also say there should be fresh elections.

They also criticise the links between President Jacques Chirac and the long-term leader of French Polynesia, Gaston Flosse.

A Socialist MP, Rene Dosiere, says he questions how French taxpayers' money has been spent in French Polynesia.

He says the presidential office of Gaston Flosse who was responsible for a population of a quarter of million had the same budget as the president's office of France.

He told French radio that this has to be looked at.

I am about to propose a commission of inquiry, if my friends within the Socialist group agree, to be able to see how public funds were used in French Polynesia.