1 May 2008

French Polynesian government re-shuffled and expanded

7:43 pm on 1 May 2008

The French Polynesian president, Gaston Tong Sang, has re-shuffled and expanded his government less than two weeks after it was formed.

He has given the works ministry to a new government member Louis Frebault after his wife, Joelle Frebault, demanded that he be given a ministry.

Her demand had fueled speculation that if her wish was not met, she would give her support to the opposition.

This could have deprived the Tong Sang government of the minimum 29 assembly members to have a majority.

Mr Frebault replaces Moehau Teriitahi who has been given another portfolio, bringing the number of ministers to 15.

Mr Tong Sang says he had wanted to give the 15th ministry to a member of the opposition pro-independence Union For Democracy but the offer was rejected.

He concedes that a majority made up of just 29 is slim.

Last month, two members of the Union For Democracy defected to his side to give him the presidency.

Close relatives of the two defectors have been made ministers.