30 Aug 2007

French minister cancels Tahiti party leader talks as political crisis festers

1:39 pm on 30 August 2007

The French minister in charge of overseas territories, Christian Estrosi, has cancelled all meetings with French Polynesian party leaders during his visit to Tahiti due to begin tomorrow.

His ministry in Paris says Mr Estrosi doesn't want to interfere in their affairs as the French Polynesian assembly is set to vote on a no confidence motion which could oust the government of Gaston Tong Sang.

Mr Estrosi was due to hold roundtable talks with political leaders in Papeete as the French government wants to shorten the term of the current assembly and change the electoral system for a third time in three years to add political stability to the territory.

The minister is now expected to make an announcement after his return from French Polynesia next week.

Mr Tong Sang has the backing of fewer than a dozen members in the 57-strong assembly.

A sitting is scheduled to open in two days to debate the motion which could end the eight-month-old presidency of Mr Tong Sang.