15 Aug 2007

French Polynesian majority splits as early polls loom

3:01 pm on 15 August 2007

The leader of French Polynesia's Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party says it has decided to quit the ruling pro-autonomy majority formed after last December's ousting of the Oscar Temaru-led government.

Gaston Flosse made the announcement after rejecting a letter by his party colleague, Gaston Tong Sang, who sought to maintain the current coalition agreement with him as head of government until 2009.

The rift has left Mr Tong Sang with less than 20 percent of the assembly members behind him.

At the beginning of next week he and other political leaders are expected to be at roundtable talks in Paris to discuss a French plan for fresh elections under a new electoral system.

The opposition Union For Democracy has been calling for elections since it was ousted by the Tahoeraa-led coalition in December.

It's not known whether Mr Temaru will attend next week's Paris talks.