20 Sep 2010

Paris indicates no changes to Tahiti's electoral system before March

5:58 am on 20 September 2010

French Polynesia's president, Gaston Tong Sang, says he has been told by Paris that the French assembly won't be able to consider voting on possible changes to Tahiti's electoral system before March.

This comes ten days after extensive discussions in Paris between the French overseas territories minister, Marie Luce Penchard, and a cross-section of Tahiti's political leaders on plans to change the electoral system for the third time since early 2007.

The change is being sought to end political instability, with Paris hinting at the same time that there are no plans for France to call territorial elections before 2013.

Last week, the opposition's Oscar Temaru used the opening of the budget debate in Papeete to call on the rival Tahoeraa Huiraatira of Gaston Flosse to support his movement's call for French Polynesia to be reinscribed on the UN list of territories to be decolonised.

Mr Temaru suggested this could lead to a new coalition between his side and Mr Flosse to oust Mr Tong Sang who struggles to muster a majority in the assembly.

There is speculation in Papeete that a bid to oust the government may be made in three weeks when Mrs Penchard is due in Tahiti.