13 Mar 2008

Jailed French Polynesian politician in run for mayoralty

7:01 pm on 13 March 2008

Campaigning for the second round of the municipal elections in French Polynesia has focussed on the Mahina commune whose mayor is seeking re-election from jail.

Emile Vernaudon has been in prison for 100 days as he is being investigated for alleged fraud and theft of public funds as government minister in charge of the postal service and telecommunications.

The opposition To Tatou Aia coalition is supporting Mr Vernaudon who won most votes in last weekend's first round of polling.

The rival Union For Democracy candidate says this support contradicts the To Tatou Aia claim that it is campaigning for honesty and the values of the French republic.

As Mr Vernaudon was prevented from standing in last month's territorial election because he was in jail, his wife Heifara Izal stood in his place and won an absolute majority to enter the assembly as a top To Tatou Aia member.