FRENCH POLYNESIA PRESIDENT OUSTED AFTER 8 MONTHS

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PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Aug. 31) – The French Polynesia Assembly approved a motion of no confidence Friday morning by 35 votes, toppling the eight-month-old government of President Gaston Tong Sang.

The assembly then voted to meet on Sept. 10 to elect a new government president. That will be the fifth time since the May 2004 election for the 57 assembly seats that the unicameral body has met to choose a new president. Tong Sang, 58, was the third person to hold the post of government president since the 2004 election.

Presidential candidates have until midnight Tuesday to file their candidacy. The speculation has already begun on who the candidates may be.

Although the no confidence vote had a safe margin of six more than the required 29 votes for adoption, 16 assembly members were not present for the vote and six of the 41 present cast blank ballots.

The obvious overall conclusion was that a combined effort on the part of Tahiti's two key political rivals over the past 30 years led to the toppling of the Tong Sang government. Those rivals are Gaston Flosse, 76, the French senator and leader of the pro-autonomy Tahoera'a Huiraatira party, and Oscar Temaru, 62, the leader of Tahiti's biggest independence party, Tavini Huiraatira.

Since the May 2004 election, Temaru has twice served as government president, while Flosse has served once.

[PIR editor’s note: Meanwhile, RNZI reports that The French government is set to arrange an early general election in French Polynesia this year under a new electoral system in a bid to increase political stability.

This was announced in Papeete by the French secretary of state in charge of overseas territories, Christian Estrosi, only hours after the eight-month old French Polynesian government of Gaston Tong Sang was ousted in a confidence vote as some members of his Tahoeraa Huiraatira party voted with the opposition.

Mr Estrosi says he hopes the French legislature will pass the amendments within a month to shorten the current five-year term of the French Polynesian assembly by nearly two years for a fresh general election to be held before the end of the year.

The last general election was held in May 2004 but five months later the territory was in political disarray with three men claiming to be president and the French supreme court then declaring that the election of 37 of the 57 members was invalid because of voting irregularities. ]

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