French Polynesia has a new president
French Polynesia assembly elects new president.
French Polynesia has a new president after the veteran leader Gaston Flosse was forced out of office because of corruption.
This comes after the French government decided to deliver last July's court ruling, which gave Flosse a four-year suspended jail sentence and a 170,000 US dollar fine.
Above all, the sentence imposed on Flosse a three-year ban from holding a public office.
While being forced to vacate his post in Tahiti, Flosse outlined what he expected the territorial assembly to do next.
Walter Zweifel followed the procedure.
It is no surprise that the territorrial assembly elected Edouard Fritch as French Polynesia's new president, giving him 46 votes and Richard Tuheiava a mere ten.
A former son-in-law of Flosse's, Mr Fritch has for decades been the number two in the hierarchy of the Tahoeraa Huuiraatira.
And with the party's dominance in the assembly, it was a foregone conclusion that he would win.
In his speech, Mr Fritch promised continuity of the Flosse policies.
He also called for help from France as a matter of national solidarity.
But he struck a softer tone towards the pro-independence opposition and promised his own line in dealing with the decolonisation process before the UN.
Flosse was bitter that he was forced out of office.
He had hoped to be given a presidential pardon, which he says he would have been given had Jacques Chirac had still been in power.
While saying he accepted the court's ruling, he regrets France has failed to recognise his role in standing up for the nuclear weapons tests in Moruroa.
In a television interview, he maintained that France owed its military might to French Polynesia.
GASTON FLOSSE: If it has made it to be among the leading countries in nuclear technology, it's thanks to us, thanks to French Polynesia. And the recognition is this! Well, I think the president of the Republic is weak and didn't really want to take his responsibilities.
The opposition's Oscar Temaru, also speaking in local televison, says it's odd that Gaston Flosse views the tests as positive given the damage they have caused.
Mr Temaru says he hopes that Edouard Fritch can project a better picture of French Polynesia as Flosse's transgressions have been reported widely.
OSCAR TEMARU: We have to promote our country - that is very important.And what do people on the outside say about French Polynesia? It's a country of shenaningans, it's a country with a president who is convicted.
There is strong suspicion that Gaston Flosse will shape government policy as uncontested and revered leader of his party. He has already named Marcel Tuihani as president of the assembly - a choice unanimously backed by the party. His election is due on Monday. Flosse says he will help with advice and hopes to be back in power himself in 2018 - the year he turns 87.
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