5 Sep 2005

Makemo atoll in French Polynesia refuses to elect successor to sacked mayor

6:54 am on 5 September 2005

People on the French Polynesian atoll of Makemo have continued to defy the French state which has dismissed the local mayor, Tuhiva Mairoto, for alleged mismanagement.

Another attempt to elect a successor was abandoned when locals blocked access to the town hall despite police efforts to arrange for a meeting to choose a new mayor.

The dissidents say they don't want a mayor from another atoll in the Tuamotu archipelago and have called for the entire council to be dissolved so that fresh elections can be held.

Mr Mairoto has also challenged last month's decree for his dismissal issued by the French prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, claiming that Paris has no authority to sack him.

The territory's president, Oscar Temaru, visited the atoll as part of a weekend tour of the archipelago ahead of the budget debate.

The trip was aimed at getting outer island assembly members to join his coalition.