FRANCE STEPS IN TO RESOLVE TAHITI POLITICAL IMPASSE

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Aug. 20) – Talks are to begin in France later today to try to sort out the political impasse in French Polynesia.

The top official in charge of overseas territories, Christian Estrosi, has convened the territory’s top politicians for three days to consider reforms as the government in Papeete no longer has a majority.

Key points being considered are the possibility of early elections and yet another change to the electoral system which was last amended earlier this year.

Small parties would like to keep the system of proportional representation but there is concern that without giving the strongest party bonus seats, elections will again lead to unstable coalitions.

The latest majority of anti-independence parties fell apart over disagreements about how many ministerial portfolios should be given to the Tahoeraa Huiraatira faction led by the party president, Gaston Flosse.

The last election for a five-year assembly term was held in 2004 but its results in the biggest constituency were annulled six months later by the French Supreme Court because of voting irregularities.

The following by-election for 37 of the 57 seats brought to power the second government of the Union For Democracy which was ousted last December.

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