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PAPE'ETE, French Polynesia (September 12, 2001 - Oceania Flash/SPC)---French Polynesia's President Gaston Flosse on Wednesday (Tuesday Pape'ete time), sacked Minister of Health Patrick Howell, the local government said in a release.

Flosse based his decision on the findings of an inquiry into the death of a Japanese tourist, which occurred on Bora Bora atoll on August 15.

(The inquiry) concludes that "public health services placed under the authority of Mr. Howell have obviously failed. The Bora Bora medical center has endorsed an erroneous diagnosis and it gravely underestimated the urgency of the situation," the release said.

The victim, a female Japanese tourist who was on holiday on the atoll, should have been medivaced, the inquiry found.

"While Mr Howell is not personally responsible for the death, he, however, failed his responsibilities."

The government adds that Howell had "provided the government with false information" that "wrongly accused" a private airline," Air Archipel" with complicity in the tragedy.

"As a result, the President of the government has decided to dismiss the Health minister."

Flosse later announced a cabinet reshuffle, in which Mrs. Armelle Merceron, who is also in charge of the Public Service and administration reform, is replacing Howell.


Here is the French Polynesian Cabinet, as announced on Wednesday (Tuesday Pape'ete time).

President, Minister for International Affairs, Pearl Industry and Communal Development: Gaston Flosse

Vice-President, Minister for Employment, Training, Archipelagos Development, Decentralization, New Technologies and Posts: Edouard Fritch

Minister for Economy and Finance: Georges Puchon

Minister for Housing, Trade Relations, Social Dialogue, Planning and Urbanism, and Government Spokesman: Jean-Christophe Bouissou

Minister for Land Tenure, Government Property, Land Reallocation: Gaston Tong Sang

Minister for Education and Technical Training: Nicolas Sanquer

Minister for Utilities and Ports: Jonas Tahuaitu

Minister for Health, Public Service and Administration Reforms: Armelle Merceron

Minister for Transport and Energy: Bruno Sandras

Minister for Tourism, Environment and Women's Affairs: Nicole Bouteau

Minister for Fisheries, Small and Medium Businesses: Nina Vernaudon

Minister for Agriculture and Livestock: Frédéric Riveta

Minister for Family and Solidarity: Pia Faatomo

Minister for Youth and Sport, Youth Social Rehabilitation, Associations, and in charge of relations between the French Polynesian Assembly and the Economic, Social and Cultural Council: Reynald Terarii

Minister for Culture, Higher Education, Research, in charge of the promotion of Polynesian languages: Louise Peltzer

Minister for Arts and Crafts: Pascale Haiti

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