TEMARU SLAMS TAHITI PARTY DEFECTIONS

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French Polynesia president chides opportunists

PAPEÉTE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Oct. 5, 2009) - Tahiti’s president, Oscar Temaru, has accused six French Polynesia Assembly members from the outer islands of pulling out of his majority coalition last week out of personal rather than public interests.

Temaru’s comments were contained in a media communiqué sent out Sunday evening replying to the action taken last Thursday by the political group known as "Te Mana o te mau motu."

Temaru’s communiqué said it’s "time to work together, not" in a "mercato" political disguise made to appear as acting in the public interest. "Mercato", an Italian word, has a contemporary sports use, referring to a transfer period each year when football (soccer) players look for better deals on another club. In this political use, it suggests that the outer islanders are looking for greener grass outside the Temaru majority.

French "Polynesia is tired of these maneuvers," Temaru said. That was a reference to the numerous times since 2004 that Tahiti’s governments have been toppled by assembly members switching political camps. He added, "Those who hope to make others believe that their umpteenth changing of sides was in the name of public interest must realize that nobody believes them."

The Temaru communiqué gave its alleged version of why some of the six assembly representatives from the outer islands quit the majority, which now stands at a fragile 38 instead of the previous 44 in the 57-seat body.

Teina Maraeura of the western part of the Tuamotu Archipelago and the group’s leader, is seeking to obtain a rural economy post, according to Temaru. Ms. Joëlle Frébault of the Marquesas Islands is after a government ministerial post for her husband, the communiqué claimed. And Temauri Foster of the eastern Tuamotu Archipelago and Gambier Islands is looking for a ministerial post to help him regain the seat of mayor on the atoll of Hao, Temaru claimed.

Meanwhile, there’s almost daily speculation in Tahiti’s news media over when, if ever, former French Polynesia President and Bora Bora Mayor Gaston Tong Sang and his group of 14 assembly members may pull out of the majority. If such a move were upheld by the adoption of a no-confidence motion, that would topple the nearly six-month-old Temaru government, which would be left with only 24 seats, five short of a one-seat absolute majority.

In announcing their withdrawal of support for the Temaru majority coalition, the outer islander representatives claimed they had felt neglected by government officials in Papeéte. "There are too many problems in this majority," said the group’s leader, Maraeura.

One of the most controversial recent subjects involving the outer islander representatives was President Temaru’s decision to award an operating license to the King Tamatoa ferryboat. The boat is due to arrive soon from France to begin high-speed, roundtrip rotations between Papeéte and the Leeward Islands, carrying cargo, up to 983 passengers and 250 motor vehicles.

That project was chosen over one proposed by Eugène Degage of Moorea, who already operates ferryboats between Tahiti and its sister island. Degage’s proposed Raromatai Express would take about three years to build and would have carried 450 passengers, but no cargo.

Temaru’s communiqué sent out Sunday night said the government’s decision on the ferryboat was made only after no fewer than six meetings by the majority’s committee. There also were meetings held between ship owners and assembly representatives from the Leeward Islands, the communiqué noted, adding that the Temaru government includes four ministers from the outer islands.

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