25 Oct 2004

French Polynesia government loses appeal against motion that overthrew it

11:15 am on 25 October 2004

The highest court in France has thrown out two challenges to the motions which ousted French Polynesia's government two weeks ago.

The challenges were brought by a citizen, Rene Hoffer, and President Oscar Temaru who claimed that the one motion approved before the sitting closed was invalid because it had been signed by only six instead of the legally required 12.

But the court ruled that there is no doubt about the legality of the process because two identical motions had been tabled.

The ruling confirms the demise of the Temaru-led coalition government and comes just hours after a majority of MPs elected Gaston Flosse as the territory's new president.

His election took place in the absence of the speaker, Antony Geros, who described the process as a mere party meeting of Mr Flosse's Tahoeraa Huiraatira.

He says the two sittings to choose Mr Flosse were illegal.

Mr Geros has called for presidential elections to be held in two days in line with the schedule he announced after the no confidence motion was passed.

His plan was challenged by Mr Flosse whose supporters completed the election while the other MPs stayed away.

At least 17 candidates have been named for the presidential election called by Geros. The opposition in France has strongly criticised the French government for the way it has handled the crisis in Tahiti.

There have been unprecedented marches across French Polynesia in support of Mr Temaru's call for the dissolution of the assembly and fresh elections but the French government has ruled that out.