28 Oct 2007

Reform plan for French Polynesia up for further debate

6:37 pm on 28 October 2007

The French minister in charge of overseas territories, Christian Estrosi, is in French Polynesia for further talks on his plan to change the electoral system and hold fresh elections in January.

Mr Estrosi arrived in Papeete for his third visit in three months - a day after the French cabinet approved his reform plan which the assembly in Tahiti overwhelmingly opposed in a vote last month.

The territory's main parties reject his claim that the reform will bring about greater political stability.

He is due to meet the assembly this week, and on arrival described himself as a man of compromise who wants to be, as he put it, in fusion with the French of Polynesia.

Mr Estrosi also says nothing is final until he has heard everybody.

In August, all French Polynesian parties were represented at a week of talks in Paris to discuss his plan except Oscar Temaru's Union For Democracy which was in opposition but has since been returned to power.

The Estrosi plan provides for the term of the assembly to be shortened and fresh elections with two rounds of voting.