4 Jun 2004

Election of pro-independence Speaker in French Polynesia marks end of an era

1:11 pm on 4 June 2004

A close observer of French Polynesian affairs says the election today of a new speaker of the Assembly marks the end of an era for the territory.

The former opposition, which is poised to take over from the president, Gaston Flosse, today used its new electoral muscle to install a new Assembly Speaker.

At its first meeting since elections on May 23, the Assembly elected Antony Geros, a member of the pro-independence opposition Tavini Huiraatira party.

Journalist Patrick Decloitre says this latest vote illustrates the power of the new opposition coalition, led by Oscar Temaru.

"Today it is the first time that this agreement is actually come into reality and effect, and this is a good indication of how things could work for the next point of the agenda, which is the election of an overall president of French Polynesia. All commentators are actually saying that this is the end of an era, this is the end of about 20 years of near-absolute power by the incumbent president, Gaston Flosse."