27 Dec 2006

New President for French Polynesia

5:51 pm on 27 December 2006

French Polynesia has a new President following this morning's vote by the territory's assembly.

31 members of the 57-MP assembly successfully voted in Gaston Tong Sang of the Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party.

Mr Tong Sang, who is the mayor of Bora Bora, takes over from Oscar Temaru who was ousted as President two weeks ago when the assembly approved a motion of no-confidence.

The change of Presidency comes 21 months after Mr Temaru was elected at the helm of the pro-independence Union for Democracy coalition.

Mr Tong Sang was the Tahoeraa's presidential candidate in the election in March 2005 when he was defeated by Mr Temaru 29 votes to 26.

Mr Temaru has described his loss in today's assembly vote as only a battle in a war that is far from won.

In a speech mainly in Tahitian, Mr Temaru called the election of Mr Tong Sang a coup d'etat.

He has also accused the French state of interferring in the local political scene, describing it as a theft and a violation of the voice of the people.

Meanwhile, in a statement, Mr Tong Sang says he intends to officially start his Presidency on Wednesday morning local time.