20 Apr 2006

French Polynesian government shake-up restores Temaru's majority

1:19 pm on 20 April 2006

There has been a major shake-up of the French Polynesian government which appears to have restored the majority of the Union For Democracy in the 57-member assembly.

The territory's president, Oscar Temaru, has named two members of the opposition pro-autonomy camp, Michel Yip and Teina Mareaura, as new ministers.

Their two seats in the assembly will go to members of the Union For Democracy.

Mr Yip will take over the telecommunications portfolio from Emile Vernaudon whose resignation last week had not been accepted by Mr Temaru until today's announcement of the re-shuffle.

Another assembly member, Domingo Dauphin, will be given a yet to be specified ministry after reports that he had defected.

Four ministers, including the vice-president Jacqui Drollet and the education minister, Jean-Marius Raapoto, have relinquished their ministries to return to the assembly to shore up the Union For Democracy's majority.

The latest shake-up has left a new assembly group, Te Rima Ohipa, short of members to remain a recognised bloc, just days after it was formed.

Its leader, Jean Christophe Bouissou, has been campaigning for autonomy within the French state although he has relied on an assembly member, Hiro Tefaarere, who is an outspoken politician for independence.