10 Mar 2008

Doubts whether French Polynesian leader can remain in office after misspent funds ruling

8:07 pm on 10 March 2008

A French Polynesian daily newspaper has raised the question whether

President Gaston Flosse can remain in office following a French accounts office decision that he has misspent government funds.

The ruling in Paris was made late last year but last month Mr Flosse was elected as the territory's new president for a five-year term.

The Nouvelles de Tahiti says there appears to be legal void as the law applies to France and its overseas department but may not be applicable to French Polynesia which under the 2004 autonomy statute was made an overseas country within the French republic.

French Polynesia is under pressure to pass a budget before the end of the month as the previous administration failed to do so when a vote was held late last year.

If the Flosse government is unable to get it approved, the territory's finances will be run by the French high commission in Papeete.

And it is still uncertain if Mr Flosse is entitled, under current legislation, to proceed with any appropriation moves.