11 Apr 2006

French Polynesian opposition parties in talks for assembly candidate

8:10 pm on 11 April 2006

Opposition parties in French Polynesia are negotiating to nominate a joint candidate for this week's election of a new assembly president.

The Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party says it is prepared to drop its candidate, Gaston Tong Sang, if it can get support from other small parties to block the re-election of a candidate backed by President Oscar Temaru.

The leader of the Rautahi Party, Jean-Christophe Bouissou, says the talks underway now have to look beyond the election of a president of the assembly.

An MP of Mr Temaru's pro-independence party, Sabrina Birk, says this has led to claims that the Tahoeraa has enticed Emile Vernaudon to switch allegiance in return for support to get the top job.

If such a plan were to succeed it would give the presidency to a man serving a suspended jail sentence for corruption.

"The Tahoeraa Party has already proposed to Emile [Vernaudon]'s party, the Aia Api, the place of president of the government. So they are trying to split up the cake as best they can."

Sabrina Birk