FRENCH POLYNESIA TERRITORIAL ASSEMBLY BATTLE

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PAPEETE, French Polynesia (June 19, 2000 - Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat)---The battle of bills aimed at developing fairer political representation in the Territorial Assembly has taken a new twist.

The opposition had proposed merging French Polynesia's five constituencies.

A proposal by the majority led by President Gaston Flosse, however, calls for increased representation from the more populated Windward Islands. That would add eight seats to the current 41 in the Territorial Assembly.

But neither of these bills will go to the French National Assembly. Instead, local lawmakers will vote on a proposal to retain the 41 councilmen and transfer seven seats from the outer islands to the Windward Islands.

"The fight goes on," said Alex Du Prel, editor of the monthly magazine Tahiti Pacifique.

The Assembly will vote on the bill June 20.

"The Flosse government wants to keep a system that assures them a majority within the Assembly with only about 40 percent of the vote," Du Prel added.

He said the proposed legislation is likely to get the support of the French National Assembly after expected changes by the Senate.

A decision is expected before the May 2001 elections.

For additional reports from Radio Australia/Pacific Beat, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia/Pacific Beat.

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