NEW FRENCH POLYNESIA PRESIDENT TO CUT MINISTRIES

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PAPEÉTE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Dec. 28) - Newly elected French Polynesia President Gaston Tong said Wednesday he plans to announce Friday morning who will serve as ministers in his government.

He made the announcement following a red carpet welcome at the French Polynesia presidential headquarters in downtown Papeéte. Patrick Leboucher, the outgoing chief of staff for former President Oscar Temaru, had the red carpet installed and was on hand to welcome Tong Sang Wednesday morning.

Although he has promised to have fewer than the 18 ministers in the previous Temaru government, Tong Sang has not specified how many he will appoint. However, his entourage has indicated the number will be 14.

"Diversity and competence" are the key words Tong Sang uses in describing the ministerial selection process he will use. Political leanings, however, do not appear to be a determining factor.

As soon as Tong Sang visited his office on the first floor, he told the news media, "I already feel the weight of the responsibility that falls on me with this burden of president."

But Tong Sang, who is also the mayor of Bora Bora, assured the media, "I will remain the same person, the one everyone knows. Now I must prepare my government."

Tong Sang was elected president on Tuesday during the second round of voting in the French Polynesia Assembly. He won by a vote of 31-26 over Temaru, whose government was toppled in a 29-0 vote of no confidence on December 13 after 650 days in office.

Tong Sang spent his first day on the job arranging for the installation of members of his presidential cabinet. He noticed after visiting all the offices at the presidency that many of the shelves were empty.

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