16 Apr 2008

French government hails Flosse ouster in French Polynesia

3:38 pm on 16 April 2008

The French government has congratulated Gaston Tong Sang on being chosen as the new president of French Polynesia.

The junior minister in charge of overseas territories, Yves Jego, has issued a statement only hours after the assembly in Tahiti made Mr Tong Sang the territory's third president in two months.

He was returned to the top office for a second time in his career after the required minimum of 29 assembly members approved a motion of no confidence to oust the government of Gaston Flosse.

The change of leadership was possible because two government assembly members, Michel Yip and Justine Teura, defected to the opposition.

Mr Jego's predecessor, Christian Estrosi, expressed his immense satisfaction at the re-election of Mr Tong Sang whose coalition is the French Polynesian ally of their ruling UMP Party in France.

Mr Estrosi accused Mr Flosse and the leader of the Union For Democracy, Oscar Temaru, of having stolen the French Polynesians' vote when they renewed their coalition after the early general election in February.

As a result, France never extended its congratulations to Mr Flosse.

In this year's election campaign, Mr Flosse said he would not enter a coalition with Mr Temaru while Mr Temaru called for the election of somebody not under investigation by the judiciary - a reference to Mr Flosse and Mr Tong Sang who are fraud suspects.