9 Dec 2004

French minister surprised at Tahiti observer request

11:30 am on 9 December 2004

The French overseas territories minister has expressed surprise that the ousted French Polynesian president, Oscar Temaru, wants to have international observers at the next election in the territory.

In an interview with the Paris newspaper, Le Figaro, Brigitte Girardin said it was the parties backing Mr Temaru which were sanctioned by the French Supreme Court - a reference to last month's ruling which declared the election of 37 of the assembly's 57 members void.

The court upheld a complaint by President Gaston Flosse that serious irregularities during the general election in Mahina on Tahiti last May led to his defeat and the subsequent victory of Mr Temaru's coalition.

The ruling has stunned many commentators and prompted the French opposition to accuse the French government of abusing its power by stealing Mr Temaru's election victory.

At issue was the fitting out of the Mahina office in blue colours which is being identified with anti-Flosse parties.

Mr Temaru says he wants international observers to oversee the campaign and election.