18 Jan 2011

Campaigning begins in French Polynesia's Mahina election

12:54 pm on 18 January 2011

Campaigning has officially begun in French Polynesia in the early municipal election in Mahina, with nine groups in the race.

Voting will be in two rounds, with the first one on January the 30th and the second a week later.

The election was called after the long-term mayor, Emile Vernaudon, was declared ineligible to hold office last year after a corruption conviction.

However, he wants to regain the position, which he first won in 1977.

In 2008, Mr Vernaudon made legal history by becoming the first person under French jurisdiction to be elected mayor while in jail.

At the time he was held for several months in connection with a probe into the so-called OPT affair.

In his absence, the Mahina council installed him in office by placing a ribbon around his photograph in the mayor's chair.

Mr Vernaudon is due in court tomorrow to hear the verdict in the OPT affair, with the prosecution calling for a five-year jail sentence.