27 Feb 2006

French Polynesia's Aia Api party confirms policy of autonomy within French republic

7:37 am on 27 February 2006

French Polynesia's Aia Api party has confirmed its policy of pursuing autonomy within the French republic during its annual congress.

The party is part of the ruling coalition and led by the telecommunications minister, Emile Vernaudon, who was given a suspended jail sentence for corruption last month.

He addressed thousands of supporters at yesterday's gathering which was also attended by former ministers and the chief of staff of the French Polynesian presidency, Patrick Leboucher.

Mr Leboucher said he was not representing the president officially but acknowledged the role of the Aia Api Party in giving the pro-independence Tavini party the support it needs to be in government.

At the Congress, the minister for medium and small enterprises, Hiro Tefaarere, criticised the vice president, Jacqui Drollet, but rejected claims that he is ready to back a motion of no-confidence.