13 Apr 2006

French Polynesian politician convicted for corruption vies for presidency

3:47 pm on 13 April 2006

Reports from French Polynesia say the minister who was sentenced for corruption this year is seeking to replace Oscar Temaru as the territory's president.

Emile Vernaudon resigned from the coalition government yesterday and the Tahitipresse news agency says two fellow ministers of his Aia Api Party are said to resign today.

Mr Vernaudon says a first goal was to win the post of the assembly president which is to be decided tomorrow.

But the he says the next step will be the presidency.

In January, Mr Vernaudon was given a one-year suspended jail sentence for corruption and fined 30,000 US dollars.

He has been in talks with the Tahoeraa Huiraatira opposition party and centrist parties in a bid to form a new majority in the 57 seat assembly.

Mr Vernaudon has been the mayor of Mahina where voting irregularities in 2004 were such that the French supreme court annulled the election result of all 37 assembly members in the Tahiti and Moorea constituency.