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Tong Sang seeks to regain presidency

PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Nov. 19, 2009) – Members of French Polynesia President Oscar Temaru's majority coalition reacted with criticism, sadness and disappointment to Thursday's motion of no confidence filed by three pro-autonomy political parties.

"A real madness" was the reaction from Jean-Christophe Bouissou, who has become an increasingly vocal spokesman for the Temaru government even though his political group controls only five of the French Polynesia Assembly's 57 seats.

By late Thursday afternoon, the Temaru government had yet to make an official statement about the motion of no confidence, which the assembly is due to vote on next Tuesday at the earliest, Wednesday at the latest.

Bouissou and two other Temaru majority members—Unutea Hirshon and Myron Mataoa—denounced the no confidence motion filed Thursday morning just before the assembly was to resume its debate over next year's government budget. They described the move by Gaston Tong Sang's To Tatou Ai'a group, Edward Fritch's Tahoera'a Huiraatira party and the outer islanders' Mana o te mau motu group as an alliance of convenience.

"My feeling is that it's a true madness in a difficult political situation with an ongoing crisis," said Bouissou, leader of the pro-autonomy party Rautahi and the assembly group Ia Ora Te Fenua. The group has the necessary six members to exist because Ms. Hirshon is "on loan" from Temaru's UPLD (Union for Democracy) party.

If the assembly adopts the motion next week, Tong Sang would become president of French Polynesia for the third time since 2004 and would form Tahiti's ninth government since 2004. While the motion contains the required 15 signatures, Tong Sang talked Thursday of having the support of as many as 30-32 of the assembly seats.

For Bouissou, however, the motion's supporters are closer to the minimum 29 seats required to topple the current Temaru government, which was created this past February following a successful motion of no confidence that toppled the Tong Sang government.Such a small number of seats are not enough to run the government, Bouissou said, adding, I find this is completely crazy. And it is all the more crazy when I read the reasons for this no confidence motion, as well as the program they have outlined.

"For me, it's totally unrealistic," said Bouissou, once a top official in Gaston Flosse's Tahoera'a party and then a top official in Tong Sang's party.

"Balancing the 'country's' budget with a call for mobilization on a 'national' loan intended for investments while we're talking about balancing the operational budget? We are really way off the mark," Bouissou said.

"I think Gaston Tong Sang is unaware of the problems he will have to face, especially the huge political risks and the social risks." Bouissou added that French Polynesia's people are currently facing a "great difficulty", but manage to remain calm because President Temaru is leading the "country".

Bouissou claimed that the reason behind the motion of no confidence was simply an effort to get back in power for the pro-autonomy groups. "It's an operation that will abort rather quickly. If it doesn't occur at the moment of the vote on the motion of no confidence, then it will be very shortly thereafter because once again we have people behind the motion who are people used to changing sides."

Tahiti had five governments between the general elections for the 57 assembly seats of May 2004 and those of February 2008. If the latest motion of no confidence is adopted next week, the new Tong Sang government will be the fourth government since February 2008.

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