18 Jul 2008

French Polynesian opposition queries government over senatorial election

12:41 pm on 18 July 2008

The opposition in French Polynesia has accused President Gaston Tong Sang of launching a campaign for September's French senatorial election with taxpayer's money ahead of the official campaign start of August the 29th.

The opposition says he is using the territory's airplane to tour the archipelago to woo island councillors and mayors who are part of the select group of people making up the electoral body for the senate election.

Two seats are on offer but no official candidates have been confirmed apart from the opposition's Gaston Flosse who has been the territory's sole senator for the past decade.

The opposition has expressed concern at Mr Tong Sang's announcement to disburse more than 60 million US dollars to the communes while claiming there was no money for a solidarity fund.

This comes just days before the scheduled arrival of the French junior minister in charge of overseas territories, Yves Jego, whose four-day visit will see most unions stage a general strike.

Amid growing unease over the state of the economy, truckers caused huge traffic jams near Papeete as part of a push to get discounted diesel.