French Polynesia Ruling Party Confirms Four Expulsions

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Vice-President, mayor of Papeete out over French Senate row

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 6, 2015) – French Polynesia's ruling Tahoeraa Huiraatira party has expelled four senior members, including the vice-president and the mayor of Papeete, amid a row over who can stand for the French Senate next month.

Reports say a Tahoeraa meeting at the home of the party president, Gaston Flosse, unanimously decided to expel the four for defying an earlier party selection.

In February, the party re-nominated Teura Iriti and Flosse's son-in-law, Vincent Dubois, as candidates.

None of the government ministers, who are all Tahoeraa members, was at the weekend meeting, which has now expelled among others the vice-president, Nuihau Laurey, and the veteran mayor of Papeete, Michel Buillard.

Mr Laurey and Lana Tetuanui, who is an assembly member, say they will still seek to win the Senate seats when the electoral college meets in May.

The two have the support of the government led by Edouard Fritch, who succeeded Flosse as president last year when he lost his office because of a sentence for corruption.

Mrs Iriti and Mr Dubois 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

Mr Fritch and several ministers warned the party against the expulsions, saying they could have grave consequences for it and its majority in the assembly.

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