23 Apr 2008

French Polynesian politician becomes minister but stays with opposition party

1:34 pm on 23 April 2008

French Polynesia's opposition Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party says Armelle Merceron will continue to be a party member despite her decision last week to join the new ruling coalition as a minister.

She accepted an invitation by President Gaston Tong Sang to broaden his government's support base while the Tahoeraa leadership dismissed the advance.

Mr Tong Sang had offered one of the 15 ministries to the each of the two opposition parties.

Mrs Merceron defied her party last week by attending the assembly sitting which ousted her party leader, Gaston Flosse, from the presidency but she decided to cast a blank ballot paper.

By accepting a ministerial position, she has relinquished her assembly seat which has gone to the next politician on the party list, Rene Temeharo.

The government has the support of 29 of the assembly's 57 members.