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PAPEÉTE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Jan. 4) - Well-known Tahiti photographer Teva Sylvain has announced the creation of a new political party with the ambition of creating a federation of center parties already seeking a "third way."

"We decided to become involved because personally, for example, I don’t consider myself to be involved in the existing parties," said Sylvain, who was one of the founding members of the pro-autonomy political party led by Philip Schyle.

In effect, Sylvain is trying to bring together the several center parties that do not want to belong to French Polynesia President Gaston Flosse’s pro-autonomy party on the right or the coalition of parties on the left led by pro-independence party leader Oscar Temaru.

The political posturing is aimed at the February 13 French Polynesia Assembly elections to be held for 37 Windward Island seats representing the islands of Tahiti and Moorea. The 20 remaining seats representing the rest of French Polynesia are not involved.

"I’m launching a message to all these (center) political parties, telling them that it’s not worth while for each one to present its side, but that it would be better to unite and present a joint list (of candidates) that is coherent," Sylvain said. Trying to divide and conquer is the game played by the two big parties, he said, referring to Flosse’s party and Temaru’s coalition.

So far, however, Sylvain’s new party has not convinced the center parties to join his proposed federation. Nicole Bouteau, leader of a pro-autonomy party, rejected the offer and Schyle has yet to answer Sylvain’s message. Both Bouteau and Schyle helped Temaru form a coalition government with a one-vote majority in the French Polynesia Assembly last June. But Flosse forced a vote of no confidence, toppling the Temaru government and returning as government president last October.

The only center party that has expressed any interest in Sylvain’s effort is that of Antonio Perez, another former member of Schyle’s party. But Perez has proposed that Sylvain’s party join his party.

Thus, it appears that instead of forming a federation of center parties, Sylvain’s new party may be destined to simply divide Tahiti’s political center up into even smaller pieces.

Sylvain calls the center group the "third way", noting that there are presently five potential lists of "third way" candidates for the February 13 Windward Islands elections. "It’s already divided," he said of the political scene. "Therefore, whether we are divided into five or six, the results will be almost the same. In any case, it’s better for us to exist today," he said.

If Sylvain’s party successfully files a list of candidates for the February 13 election, it will then have to come up with a program that would probably be strongly influenced by the Schyle party that Sylvain helped to form with Boris Léontieff, who disappeared in May 2002 in a small airplane while campaigning in the outer islands. His body was never found.

"I created the (party’s) program with Jean-Pascal Couraud and Boris Léontieff," Sylvain said. "The ideology is the same. We’re defending the same values." Couraud mysteriously disappeared in December 1997 and is believed to be dead, although his body has never been found.

January 5, 2005


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