28 Jan 2008

To Tatou Aia tops first round of French Polynesia election

10:53 pm on 28 January 2008

Unofficial results from the first round of French Polyensia's early general election show the newly formed To Tatou Aia Party winning the biggest share of votes in the main electorates.

The party, which is led by a former president, Gaston Tong Sang, secured just under 35 percent of the votes in the Winward islands which includes Tahiti and Moorea.

It narrowly defeated the Union For Democracy led by the pro-independence politician, Oscar Temaru, which won nearly 34 percent of the votes.

In third place is the Tahoeraa Huiraatira of Gaston Flosse which won just under 22 percent of the votes, with its stronghold Pirae favouring To Tatou Aia.

The list supporting Mr Tong Sang in the Marquesas islands was the only one to win an absolute majority and secured two of the assembly's 57 seats, with the electorate's third seat going to the Tahoeraa.

A second round of voting will be held on February the 10th in five electorates to determine the remaining 54 seats.

Mr Tong Sang, who was a longtime ally of Mr Flosse, formed his party four months ago after prolonged infighting within the Tahoeraa ranks and after Mr Flosse had supported the opposition to oust Mr Tong Sang from the presidency.

Both politicians are also at the centre of a fraud probe and in the lead-up to yesterday's election, documents were leaked to a local newspaper showing that they have been summoned for questioning in March.

Turnout is expected to be lower than during the last election in 2004 when most results were annulled because of irregularities.