19 Feb 2005

French Polynesia lawmakers begin debate on censure motion that may topple president

9:11 am on 19 February 2005

In French Polynesia, a debate is getting under way in the Territorial Assembly to debate a no-confidence motion aimed at ousting the four-month old government, led by Gaston Flosse.

His Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party decided yesterday that the government shouldn't resign, despite the election setback in Tahiti, but instead face up to the motion.

"The Tahoeraa only has 27 members in the 57 member assembly, and will need the support of the two members of the Alliance for a New Democracy, to stave off the government's defeat. The motion was lodged by the Union for Democracy just hours after the election results were made official. A key minister resigned two days ago in protest at Mr Flosse's refusal to keep his word and quit, and advised against standing up to the change wanted by the people."

Last night Mr Flosse said he approached all key leaders and proposed forming a government of national unity, with proportional representation of all parties. This has been immediately rejected by both Oscar Temaru and Nicole Bouteau.

If current alignments on the motion hold, the government is expected to fall today, and end Mr Flosse's of nearly 20 years. In Papeete, I'm Walter Zweifel.