19 Jul 2007

Five ministers in French Polynesia resign - report

7:17 pm on 19 July 2007

Reports from French Polynesia say five ministers of the Tahoeraa Huiraatira party have resigned shortly after its secretary general withdrew the party's support from the ruling majority in the assembly.

The Tahitipresse news agency says a resignation letter was sent to the President Gaston Tong Sang who was yet to be told why the party pulled out of the coalition in the assembly.

The names of the five ministers are not immediately known.

Mr Tong Sang is also a member of the Tahoeraa but this week he said he was prepared to be excluded from it despite not having betrayed the party.

He was elected as the territory's president in December after outer island assembly members defected to the Tahoeraa on condition that the Tahoeraa president, Gaston Flosse, wouldn't return as the head of the government.

As the split within the Tahoeraa has become public, the opposition Union For Democracy has called on Mr Tong Sang to seek fresh elections.

So far, France has ruled out early elections but at the behest of the Tahoeraa, the electoral system has been changed.