26 Sep 2007

Temaru afraid of going to polls, says French Polynesian opposition

6:48 pm on 26 September 2007

The French Polynesian opposition has accused the French Polynesian president, Oscar Temaru, of being afraid of going to the polls after telling the assembly that he was opposed to early elections.

Gaston Tong Sang, who lost the presidency last month, says Mr Temaru had no programme to govern but only a list of pious wishes.

The French government has said it will shorten the term of the current assembly in Tahiti and organise polls, but Mr Temaru has warned Paris that hasty and botched elections could prompt a political radicalisation.

Before Mr Tong Sang lost power he wanted to serve out his term and now Mr Temaru wants to stay on but while he was in opposition he also called for fresh elections.

The Tahoeraa Huiraatira party whose members contributed to Mr Tong Sang's ouster says it has signed no pact with Mr Temaru who now says 44 out of 57 assembly members are opposed to the French plans.

In a bid to increase political stability, Paris wants to pass reforms that would see fresh elections with two rounds of voting in January under a new electoral system.