24 Nov 2004

Referendum proposed to break French Polynesia election impasse

1:12 pm on 24 November 2004

French Polynesia's ousted president, Oscar Temaru, has reportedly proposed a plebiscite to decide whether there should be fresh general elections.

Talks are being held in Paris between the French government and all of French Polynesia's party leaders to end the seven-week political crisis in Tahiti which was triggered by the defection of one of Mr Temaru's MPs to join the rival camp led by Gaston Flosse.

Mr Flosse and the French government are opposed to fresh elections despite mass protests and tens of thousands of people demanding in a petition that the assembly be dissolved.

The American Samoan member of the US Congress, Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin, says he has been told by Mr Temaru that one idea is to let voters decide.

"Since there is no agreement in the process, let the people decide in the form of a referendum or plebiscite. This is what Mr Temaru is proposing now maybe as an alternative. That way, it'll make Paris happy - let the people say, leave it to the people to decide."

Faleomavaega says under such a plan, observers from the Pacific Islands Forum and Paris should be invited to monitor the process.