25 Jul 2006

French Polynesian president faces defamation claim

6:13 pm on 25 July 2006

The French Polynesian opposition has lodged a complaint of defamation against President, Oscar Temaru, after he accused unnamed corrupt politicians in a television interview of seeking to return to power at all costs.

Mr Temaru said those wanting to win back power were people who had embezzled public funds and been convicted for it.

The opposition Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party has described his claims as lies, with Tahoeraa leaders saying they have not been convicted.

Its top leaders - Gaston Flosse, Edouard Fritch and Gaston Tong Sang - have been under investigation for corrupt deals in connection with the purchase of an atoll but have not been convicted.

However, last month a criminal court in Papeete gave Flosse a suspended three-month jail sentence for corruption in connection with a hotel purchase.

In April, the opposition failed to oust the Temaru government in a plan that would have seen another opposition politician with a criminal conviction for corruption, Emile Vernaudon, become the next president.