24 Jan 2008

French Polynesia's Temaru lodges complaint for French election interference

11:46 am on 24 January 2008

The French Polynesian president, Oscar Temaru, has lodged a complaint with the public prosecutor accusing a French minister of trying to interfere with the campaign to elect a new territorial assembly.

Mr Temaru's move comes more than a month after the overseas territories minister, Christan Estrosi, made his last visit to Tahiti during which he met leading opposition politicians.

He says Mr Estrosi used his engagements to try to influence the public by suggesting that they shouldn't vote for Mr Temaru's Union For Democracy.

The minister also visited the Marquesas islands where some mayors called for a split of the territory by creating a new French overseas dependency.

Mr Estrosi's refusal to reject the idea upset leaders in Tahiti, with Mr Temaru organising a protest march in Papeete three days before Christmas.

The public prosecutor has declined to comment on Mr Temaru's move.

Early general elections will be held in two rounds of voting, with the first round this weekend.

The last general election was held in 2004 but six months later most results were annulled because of voting irregularities.

Despite the problems, there are no foreign election observers.