7 Jul 2008

Court in French Polynesia rejects claims of electoral rigging

10:50 am on 7 July 2008

A court in Papeete has rejected a challenge by the opposition assembly coalition which claimed the French high commission had illegally fiddled with the French Polynesian electoral lists.

The claim was made by the Tahoeraa Huiraatira's Edouard Fritch after he disagreed with the make-up of list of the 697 special electors named by the high commission for the September election of the territory's two members of the French senate.

Mr Fritch had accused the French authorities of cheating, by trying to favour President Gaston Tong Sang and his camp.

But the court ruled that as a voter in the commune of Pirae, he had no basis to challenge choices affecting the communes of Faa'a and Mooera.

Mr Fritch's assembly group says the court is hiding behind a technicality and warns that it may appeal the ruling.

Under new provisions, French Polynesia will be able to choose two people to take up French senate seats.

The senate seat is currently being held by the leader of Mr Fritch's

party, Gaston Flosse.