4 Feb 2005

Forum hopes French Polynesian election will be fair

2:18 pm on 4 February 2005

The chair of the Pacific Islands Forum says he hopes the by-election in French Polynesia on February the 13th will be free and fair.

The chair, Samoa's prime minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, says it is crucial that the results have integrity.

France refused an offer by the Forum to send monitors and it as also put off a proposed Forum fact-finding mission to Tahiti although French Polynesia has Forum observer status.

In November, the French supreme court ruled that irregularities in the May general election were such that 37 seats had to be declared vacant.

With two thirds of all seats empty, the cancellation was the biggest of a general election in the Pacific.

The demand for monitors was made by the ousted Oscar Temaru-led coalition which was found to be cheating in Mahina and causing the election loss of Gaston Flosse.

There is concern in Tahiti about possible fraud because of a loosened system to give proxy votes.