16 Sep 2007

French Polynesian call to defer planned early elections

10:20 pm on 16 September 2007

French Polynesia's new president, Oscar Temaru, says he wants early general elections to be deferred until after the 2008 municipal elections.

He made the comment a day after regaining the presidency when he called for voters to be allowed to go to the polls as soon as possible to elect a new 57-member assembly.

Mr Temaru was elected president for the third time since 2004 after the Tahoeraa Huiraatira had voted out one of its own members, Gaston Tong Sang, from the territory's top post.

Meanwhile, the French government says it plans to table reform plans for French Polynesia this week, aimed at making it harder to oust governments and choosing the assembly under a new electoral system.

The junior minister in charge of the reform, Christian Estrosi, says the government has not chosen to interfere in French Polynesia's affairs.

But he says the frequent changes won't guarantee stability and sustainable development.

Mr Estrosi says France won't take sides but simply ensure that it can work with the elected majority