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SUVA, Fiji (Oceania Flash, ) - French Polynesia’s rival leaders, Gaston Flosse and Oscar Temaru, have agreed on principle that fresh general elections should be held in the French Pacific country.

The consensus emerged after one week of talks fostered by France’s minister for overseas, Brigitte Girardin.

In a release on Saturday, Girardin said the agreement stresses the need for peace in French Polynesia, which itself came in recognition of "respect for the rule of law and court rulings."

But no date has yet been agreed regarding the fresh poll.

Further discussions are planned next week, in order to iron out legal implications of the election.

"This general election requires that an organic law be passed", the joint release, signed by Girardin, Temaru and Flosse, said.

Earlier this month, France’s highest administrative tribunal, the State Council, has already triggered by-elections in French Polynesia’s most populated constituency, the Windward Islands group, which accounts for 37 of the 57 seats in the local legislative assembly and includes the main islands of Tahiti and Moorea.

The by-election, according to French Polynesia’s legislation and autonomy status, has to take place within three months, that is before February 15, 2005.

Oscar Temaru, who became French Polynesia’s President after general elections held in May this year, was ousted in a motion of no confidence on October 9, after one of his coalition MPs crossed the floor.

On a possible fresh general elections date, Temaru said in Paris he wanted this to happen as soon as possible, and possibly before February 13, 2005.

Flosse, French Polynesia’s long-time ruler who was returned to power on October 23, says the fresh poll cannot take before by-election are held in the Windward group.

He has been floating an "eighteen month" timeframe.

Since last month, Temaru’s supporters have blockaded several key government buildings (including the President’s office).

Saturday’s joint release, while heralding further talks on Monday next week in Paris, is however setting a prerequisite: that all buildings still occupied by Temaru’s supporters be vacated.

On Thursday, the State Council was reported to have fended itself with another ruling ordering Temaru to "liberate" the President’s office, the land affairs department and the information technology premises.

The State Council says if this order was not complied to within three days, M. Temaru and three other of his supported would have to pay a fine of three hundred Euro for each day of further occupation, and another one thousand Euro directly to Flosse.

But rival leaders, who have been claiming they are the "legitimate" President of French Polynesia, still haven’t reached an agreement on which mode should prevail for the fresh elections.

Earlier this year, under Flosse’s rule, a new autonomy status came in force for French Polynesia.

It also introduced new electoral rules that prevailed during last May’s general elections: a proportional suffrage with a thirty percent bonus granted to the party leading the poll in each of the six constituencies.

Under this mode, which in effect backfired, Flosse lost his majority.

For the fresh general elections, Temaru and his Union for Democracy coalition partners have stressed they want the rules reverted to the old system.

Earlier this week, French President Jacques Chirac has for the first time spoken on the ongoing political crisis in French Polynesia, saying he hoped current talks held in Paris between rival leaders Oscar Temaru and Gaston Flosse would help solve the situation.

November 29, 2004

Oceania Flash: E-mail/Courriel: padec@iname.com


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