18 Oct 2004

French High Commissioner in Tahiti explains his actions

9:15 pm on 18 October 2004

The French high commissioner in Prench Polynesia has explained his actions in the current political crisis which has seen the demise of the Oscar Temaru-led government.

The Tahitipresse news agency says Michel Mathieu issued a statement after he met four French Socialist parliamentarians who spent the weekend in Tahiti to join a mass rally called by the ousted coalition in support of its call for fresh general elections.

Mr Mathieu says he wrote to the speaker of the territorial assembly because he failed to set out the process and timetable for fresh presidential elections after Mr Temaru lost a no-confidence vote called by the opposition camp led by veteran leader, Gaston Flosse.

Mr Mathieu says he pointed out the need to respect the law and statutes to ensure the proper working of the institutions.

The high commissioner authorised the assembly's third vice president to set October 19th as the election date.

Her choice is being challenged by the ousted government which wants the assembly to be dissolved so that fresh elections can be held - a move ruled out by Paris.

There are also questions on whether the successful no confidence motion was signed by enough parliamentarians to be valid.

The political stand-off in Tahiti comes as France's highest court has yet to rule on an appeal by Mr Flosse to annul the results of the general election in May which brought the Temaru-led coalition to power.