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PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Jan. 30, 2008) – Gaston Flosse has committed his pro-France opposition party to blocking incumbent French Polynesia president and independence party leader Oscar Temaru from returning to power after the second round of general election voting on Feb. 10.

In a prepared speech aired on radio and television Tuesday night, Flosse assumed his share of responsibility for his party's political upset in the first round of voting on Sunday.

The upset occurred when former Flosse party lieutenant Gaston Tong Sang and his pro-France, pro-Tahiti autonomy coalition outpolled Temaru's "coalition" by 1,020 votes and Flosse's party by 13,691 votes.

The 76-year-old doyen of Tahiti politics never once mentioned anyone by name during his speech. But Flosse's message was clear: "At the end of the Feb. 10 second round, I pledge to you, the Tahoera'a Huiraatira will not enter into any alliance with the independence supporters and will not allow an independence candidate be elected president of French Polynesia."

That was a clear reference to Temaru, who is in power as Tahiti's president for the third time since the last general election in May 2004. His pro-independence Tavini Huiraatira party is about all that is left of the former eight-party Union for Democracy (UPLD) coalition that won 27 of the French Polynesia Assembly seats in 2004, compared with Flosse's 28 seats.

While Sunday's results were "a disappointment" for his Tahoera'a Huiraatira party, they were "also a very clear and very important victory for the autonomy camp, which won two-thirds of the votes", Flosse said.

Between Tong Sang's 41,069 votes and Flosse's 27,378 votes, they represented 68,447 votes, or 77% of the valid votes cast in favor of Tahiti remaining a French overseas community with a special internal autonomy governing statue. The results for several other eliminated small, pro-France, pro-autonomy parties only increased the pro-France, anti-independence results.

In ruling out any possible alliance with Temaru after Feb. 10, Flosse was clearly addressing doubts that lingered after their two parties joined forces to topple Tong Sang's government last Aug. 31 by voting in favor of a censure motion.

There has been much speculation since about whether Flosse and Temaru drew up a proposed alliance that was never signed. Although Flosse has consistently denied any such alliance existed, there was no denying that the two formerly rival leaders were capable of working together politically.

And when Temaru was recently asked if he was willing to form a majority coalition government with Flosse's party after the Feb. 10 election, the independence leader's reply was, "Why not?"

In an obvious attempt to clear the air, Flosse told his audiences Tuesday night, "I know that some of my decisions have upset you or offended you. I would like to express my regrets about this."

Looking ahead to the Feb. 10 second round of voting, Flosse claimed that his party represents "more than a third of the voters". However, the Tahoera'a Huiraatira lists of candidates received a combined total of 21.80% of all the votes cast in the six electoral districts on Sunday.

Those voters "must be represented in the assembly", he said, calling on his party's supporters to mobilize for the second round.

"To the first round voters I say, keep your confidence. To those who didn't vote or who cast their votes for lists that" were eliminated, "I say, join us, we need you."

Flosse told his audiences that his party's dynamism, ability to work and quality of its elected officials can provide "more stability, balance and efficiency" to a pro-autonomy majority in the assembly.

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