8 Feb 2009

French Polynesia's government falls four days ahead of no confidence vote

4:14 pm on 8 February 2009

French Polynesia's president, Gaston Tong Sang, and his government have resigned - four days ahead of a scheduled vote on a no confidence motion which would have made the pro-independence leader, Oscar Temaru, the fourth head of government in a year.

Mr Tong Sang's move also comes a day after three ministers resigned and follows the defection of at least three assembly members who deprived his coalition of a majority in the assembly.

His side says the motion is now pointless because there is no government left to be voted out, and a fresh presidential election should be held in the assembly within 15 days.

But those who lodged the motion say the process to challenge Mr Tong Sang is to be completed with this week's scheduled vote on the motion, which, if passed, makes Mr Temaru the new president.

Provisions introduced by France in 2007 require a motion to name the next president.

Mr Tong Sang came to power through a no confidence vote last April after two assembly members defected to his camp.

The two switched sides less than two months after an early general election saw Gaston Flosse form a goverment for a five-year term.