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PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse Oct. 11) – Political reactions were varied and sharp in Tahiti following the Saturday toppling of the 118-day government of President Oscar Temaru.

Temaru was ousted on a 29-0 vote of no confidence in the 57-seat French Polynesia Assembly engineered by former president Gaston Flosse.

"Things are not finished," said Gilles Tefaatau, Temaru’s Minister of Planning And Urbanism. "We’ve assisted in the first episode."

Francis Stein, Temaru’s Minister of Labor-Management Relations, said, "I’m convinced that this additional vote will later defect."

He was referring to the vote by Noa Tetuanui, who left the Temaru coalition for the new Assembly group Te Ara, which, along with former President Gaston Flosse’s Tahoeraa Huiraatira party, filed censure motions last week against the Temaru government.

One of the motions was approved Saturday night despite two days of speeches by Temaru’s Assembly coalition members and his ministers that attacked the way Flosse and his party ran Tahiti’s previous government.

"These two days have been a debate," said Nicole Bouteau, even though none of the opposition Assembly members spoke. "It was objective," said Bouteau, leader of the No Oe e Te Nunaa party that is part of Temaru’s coalition.

The censure motion vote is "not serious", she said, adding, "We’re going to experience something exceptional in French Polynesia—cohabitation."

She was referring to having a majority coalition government president and a minority coalition Assembly president. Antony Géros, a member of Temaru’s pro-independence Tavini Huiraatira party, was elected in June as Assembly president for a one-year term.

As for other members of Temaru’s former majority coalition, they said the "best solution" would be to have the Assembly dissolved so that new elections could be held. However, when Temaru asked the French State to dissolve the Assembly, his request was rejected on the grounds that it was not justified.

Assembly members of the Tahoeraa Huiraatira party also gave their reactions to the speeches made Friday and Saturday by members of Temaru’s coalition.

"I felt very dirty because of all that I heard," said Armelle Merceron, who served as Flosse’s public health minister until the May 23 elections. "The shape that this meeting took, preventing us from having a true debate, frustrated us."

However, she said she hopes to have "gone part of the way" with certain members of the Temaru coalition, at least "those who are pro-autonomy".

Lucette Taero, Assembly president when Flosse was in power, said of the two days of parliamentary speeches, "I find that beyond the political divisions that one can have between both groups, it was theater that we had, with bad actors and bad words about democracy."

For Edouard Fritch, the leader of Flosse’s party in the Assembly, the two-day Assembly session was like a "people’s court", adding, "The speaking times were badly arranged. But I don’t think it was necessary to speak. We didn’t want to annoy people."

Fritch said dissensions that occurred within Temaru’s former majority coalition are what led to the censure motion vote. "What is certain today is that the (Temaru’s political) machine got off to a bad start. They wasted time settling their internal problems and didn’t work for the country. That’s what they paid for today."

While Fritch was optimistic about the future of the new majority coalition, he admitted that with a one-vote majority of 29 seats, things will not be easy.

October 12, 2004

Tahitipresse: http://www.tahitipresse.pf/index.cfm?lang=2


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