4 Aug 2008

Political novice nominated in French Polynesia for French Senate seat

11:41 am on 4 August 2008

The French Polynesian opposition Union For Democracy has nominated a 34-year-old lawyer, Richard Tuheiava, as its candidate for the French senate election in September.

Mr Tuheiava, who joined the pro-independence party led by Oscar Temaru last month, was chosen after Mr Temaru decided that he didn't want to run the risk of losing the mayoralty of Faa'a and his post as assembly president, should he be made a senator.

The nomination, pushed by Mr Temaru, has caused surprise among senior party politicians.

Mr Tuheiava is expected to run on a coalition ticket with the opposition assembly partner, which is the anti-independence Tahoeraa Huiraatira, led by the current and sole senator, Gaston Flosse.

The ruling To Tatou Aia coalition of Gaston Tong Sang is yet to announce its candidates for the September election which will be decided by an electoral college made up of assembly members, mayors and municipal councillors.

This year, French Polynesia will for the first time choose two senators when a third of the French upper house is renewed.