12 Sep 2007

French Polynesia can elect president with simple majority says Paris

1:42 pm on 12 September 2007

The French supreme court has ruled that a simple majority is sufficient to elect a new French Polynesian president following the demise of Gaston Tong Sang in a no confidence vote at the end of last month.

The assessment in Paris contradicts the view of a Papeete court which found that an absolute majority was needed in the assembly for a valid election.

The head of the assembly wanted the clarification as the recent political splits have been such that none of the three candidates for the presidency is likely to get the support of at least 29 of the assembly's 57 members.

The opposition Union For Democracy, which is the largest political bloc in the assembly, stayed away from yesterday's planned presidential election, claiming it needed to first hear from Paris how the election rules were interpreted.

A fresh attempt to choose a president will be made in two days.

The candidates are the mainly pro-independence opposition's Oscar Temaru as well as Gaston Tong Sang and Edouard Fritch of the pro-autonomy Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party which is split.

If the Tahoeraa candidates split the vote, Mr Temaru is likely to be elected president for a third time.