31 Jan 2008

French Polynesia's ministers resign over sentencing of Gilles Tefaatau

7:20 pm on 31 January 2008

All of French Polynesia's government ministers have resigned a day after one of their colleagues, Gilles Tefaatau, was fined for corruption.

The minister, who is appealing the court ruling, resigned, which prompted his colleagues to quit as well, saying they did so in solidarity.

The move comes amid campaigning for the second round of the territorial election to choose a new 57-member assembly for a five-year term.

One of the ministers to step down, Marc Collins, says the French government is interfering with the election process in a bid to avert the re-election of Mr Temaru.

"The minister of overseas territories, Mr Estrosi, calls all other parties, asking them to rally around Mr Tong Sang. Nobody can remember has ever seen such obvious and aggressive positioning by France."

Marc Collins, French Polynesia's tourism minister.

The president, Oscar Temaru, has indicated he will form a new government within days.

In last weekend's first round of voting, Mr Tong Sang's pro-autonomy To Tatou Aia Party won most votes, with Mr Temaru's Union For Democracy coming second.