14 Feb 2005

Unprecedented numbers vote in French Polynesia by-election

4:24 pm on 14 February 2005

Unprecedented numbers of voters have been taking part in today's by-election in French Polynesia's most populated island group.

Thirty-seven seats are to be filled, after the French Supreme Court annulled some of the results of last year's general election.

Radio New Zealand International's news editor Walter Zweifel reports from Papeete.

"Unprecedented numbers of voters cast their ballots today, causing huge traffic jams all over the greater Papeete area. Voting has been orderly at the schools, that, for the day, were turned into fairgrounds, with food stalls and music.One flashpoint has been the Tahoeraa stronghold of Pire, where several women abused the French socialist MPs touring the station. One of the key leaders, Nicole Bouteau, of the Alliance for a New Democracy, reiterated that she would not enter into any alliance with the main parties, saying she'd like to create a government of union. She says she thinks that French Polynesia needs peace.Vote-counting is expected to be completed within hours, with results announced later tonight."