13 Mar 2008

Sarkozy visit to French Polynesia in doubt

2:41 pm on 13 March 2008

Press reports in French Polynesia say there is doubt that next month's planned official visit by President Nicolas Sarkozy to Tahiti will take place.

The visit was repeatedly announced by the junior minister in charge of overseas territories, Christian Estrosi.

But now the Depeche de Tahiti daily newspaper quotes sources as saying the visit has been cancelled.

This follows last month's territorial elections which resulted in the surprise return of Gaston Flosse to the presidency.

Mr Sarkozy didn't congratulate the election winner and his UMP party severed all ties with Mr Flosse's Tahoeraa Huiraatira party after it refused to side with the rival pro-autonomy To Tatou Aia coalition to form a government.

After the election, the assembly president, Oscar Temaru, said he and Mr Flosse planned to see Mr Sarkozy in Paris once the budget has been passed which is due at the end of the month.

The last French president to visit Tahiti was Jacques Chirac in 2003.