TEMARU ELECTED SPEAKER OF TAHITI ASSEMBLY

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President Tong Sang seeks to dissolve parliament

PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, April 9, 2010) – Former French Polynesia President was elected speaker of the 57-seat French Polynesia Assembly Friday by 30 votes after a long and difficult session. Temaru replaces Schyle as speaker.

After a first day of intense negotiations Thursday that led to nothing, the Assembly Speaker election was held Friday.

But the election was quite a difficult one and the Assembly Speaker was finally chosen after three votes.

"We should be united", Temaru says.

In the beginning, there were three candidates: former Tahiti president and opposition leader Oscar Temaru, Tahiti's senator and Tahoeraa huiraatira leader Gaston Flosse and Jean-Christophe Bouissou, who leads the pro-autonomy Ia Ora Te Fenua group.

Temaru first obtained 23 votes, Bouissou 19 votes and Flosse 12 votes. There also were 3 blank ballots.

This led a to a second ballot with the three same candidates, and a new one, Chantal Galenon, an unaffiliated assembly representative.

This time, Temaru obtained 22 votes, Bouissou 20 votes, Flosse 12 votes and Galenon 1 vote. There also were 2 blank ballots.

For the third and final votes, there were only two candidates remaining, Temaru and Bouissou, the ones who obtained the most votes.

Temaru obtained 30 votes, Bouissou 20 votes and there also were 7 blank ballots.

"We should be united so that we can help Tahiti to fight the current economic crisis", Temaru said minutes after his election.

"Dialogue should prevail. I am here to serve my country and the population", Temaru added.

Temaru has been Tahiti's president four times since 2004. A pro-autonomy majority led by Gaston Tong Sang toppled the last Temaru government in November 2009.

Tong Sang wants new Assembly elections

Former Assembly Speaker Philip Schyle chose not to run for the position this year.

When the Assembly Speaker election was put on the agenda last Saturday, Schyle left Gaston Tong Sang's To Tatou Ai'a coalition.

He decided to be seated as an unaffiliated assembly representative along with Fetia Api's Thilda Fuller who also left the To Tatou Ai'a coalition.

This election is also a setback for Gaston Flosse, 78, Tahiti's political doyen, who heads the pro-autonomy Tahoera'a Huiraatira party.

Flosse was Tahiti's president from 1984 to 2004 and still is a member of the French Senate.

Meanwhile, given the situation, French Polynesia President Gaston Tong Sang has announced that he has asked French President Nicolas Sarkozy for the dissolution of the French Polynesian Assembly and to call for new Assembly elections.

Tong Sang made this choice after a special Council of ministers held right in the middle of the Assembly session.

"The situation of French Polynesia is very bad. We cannot run our country like that anymore", Tong Sang said.

Under the current French Polynesia statute, the French president is the only one who can call for snap Assembly elections.

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