11 Feb 2009

Lobbying intense ahead of tomorrow's French Polynesian presidential election

1:46 pm on 11 February 2009

There is intense lobbying in French Polynesia ahead of tomorrow's scheduled election of a new president - the third such election since last February when voters chose a new assembly for a five-year term.

Candidates have to be nominated by midnight and observers say it is uncertain how many people will stand to replace Gaston Tong Sang who resigned last weekend in the face of a no confidence motion that has now been dropped.

It has not beeen ruled out that despite his recent loss of support, Mr Tong Sang will try to be elected again while the opposition coalition is in talks to see if the deal signed by its leaders two days ago will stand.

That arrangement provised for Oscar Temaru to be the candidate for president.

His opposition colleague, Gaston Flosse, has also held talks with Mr Tong Sang.

Mr Flosse became president after the last general election in February but was unseated weeks later when Mr Tong Sang was joined by two assembly members switching sides.

There have been calls for a new electoral system although France ahs changed it three times in less than five years.

The last change, decided against the will of the French Polynesian assembly, was never officially published in French Polyensia but elections have been held anyway.