12 Feb 2007

New political party in French Polynesia could undermine ruling administration

6:10 am on 12 February 2007

French Polynesia's vice-president, Temauri Foster, and three other assembly members are reported to be launching a new political party next month, further weakening the ruling Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party.

The four politicians from the Tuamotu and Marquesas islands were part of the Temaru coalition for most of last year until they switched sides again in December to help the Tahoeraa topple Mr Temaru and return to power.

One of them has told a local newspaper that their new party, which is yet to be given a name, is to represent the people of the outer islands in a territory dominated by Tahiti.

The four returned to the Tahoeraa ranks last year on condition that its leader, Mr Flosse, or his party deputy, Edourad Fritch, would not be made president once they ousted Mr Temaru.

With their support, the Tahoeraa's Gaston Tong Sang was elected president the day after Christmas in a vote supported by the so-called pro-autonomy parties, one of which is led by a former senior Tahoeraa minister.

Municipal elections are due next year and a new territorial assembly is scheduled to be elected in 2009.