14 Apr 2006

French Polynesian Assembly elects new Assembly President

10:18 am on 14 April 2006

The French Polynesian assembly has elected the leader of the centrist Fetia Api Party, Philip Schyle, as the new president of the assembly for a one-year term.

Mr Schyle replaces Antony Geros who was one vote short of retaining the post.

Antony Geros confirmed Mr Schyle's election - he won 29 votes in the first round with no vote cast for the candidate of the opposition Tahoeraa Huiraatira's candidate, Gaston Tong Sang.

The move is being hailed as a victory for those trying to curb the push for independence by President Oscar Temaru who used his address in the assembly to defy the French supreme court's ban on speaking Tahitian.

Mr Schyle has been advocating continued autonomy within the French republic but has distanced himself from the Tahoeraa's campaign for a joint front against Mr Temaru.

Despite Mr Temaru's coalition failing to retain a majority, the tabling of an immediate motion of no confidence is not certain.

In the presidential election in 2004, Mr Schyle rejected financial inducements by the Tahoeraa to keep it in power and voted for Mr Temaru, while last year it abstained.