Rifts Deepen In Tahiti's Ruling Party

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Split over potential expulsion of senior members

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 30, 2015) – The rifts within the French Polynesia's ruling Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party have deepened, with its leader poised to expel two senior members who have decided to run for the territory's two seats in the French Senate.

The government's vice-president, Nuihau Laurey, and Lana Tetuanui are standing in the May election in defiance of the party and its leader, Gaston Flosse, who has re-nominated Teura Iriti and his son-in-law, Vincent Dubois.

The latter two were made Senators last year, but a French court annulled the election, saying that a march by hundreds of Tahoeraa supporters to the polling station on election day amounted to undue pressure on the electoral college.

Reports say any move to expel Mr Laurey could trigger an open split of the party, which has had an overwhelming majority in the assembly with 38 of its 57 seats.

The election to the Senate is done by an electoral college made up of, among others, assembly members and mayors.

Flosse, who lost the presidency over a corruption conviction last year, met his successor Edouard Fritch last month for the first time in five months although they belong to the same party.

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