17 Jan 2007

French Polynesia president meets Chirac, Assembly lacks quorom to vote on motion

6:34 pm on 17 January 2007

French Polynesia's President Gaston Tong Sang has met French President Jacques Chirac in Paris, their first meeting since Mr Tong Sang's election last month.

Mr Tong Sang's first overseas visit was mainly aimed at normalising recently strained relations between Paris and its French Pacific country.

Speaking to French media after the encounter, Mr Tong Sang said the meeting with Mrt Chirac marked a major milestone in the restoration process of friendly relations between Papeete and Paris.

Encounters between the French head of State and Mr Tong Sang's predecessor, pro-independence Oscar Temaru, have never taken place during his term, between March 2005 and December last year.

Among key items on the agenda at the meeting was French legislative reform measures for Tahiti's electoral system.

Mr Tong Sang left for Paris last week shortly after Oscar Temaru filed a motion of no-confidence.

But today in Papeete, the Assembly could not sit to vote on the motion due to a lack of quorum because of a boycott by Mr Tong Sang's party, the Tahoeraa Huiraatira.

Only the 26 of the 57 MPs from the former UPLD (Union for Democracy) majority turned up.

The sitting has been postponed to tomorrow (Wednesday Tahiti time).

The Tahoeraa Huiraatira says it is confident the motion would be defeated.