30 Jan 2009

French Polynesia passes 2-billion US dollar 2009 budget

8:12 am on 30 January 2009

French Polynesia's legislative assembly has passed a 2 billion US budget for 2009, after weeks of controversy and speculation regarding the slim majority held by current President Gaston Tong Sang.

Last month, Mr Tong Sang lost the support of a crucial MP depriving his To Tatou Aia caucus of the one vote that would allow the appropriation bill to be passed by the slimmest of majorities.

With only 28 of the 57 seats, Mr Tong Sang's caucus, during this interval, had lost its majority in the house.

Protracted discussions entailed between opposition parties led by former President Gaston Flosse and pro-independence Oscar Temaru, that also includes one component of Mr Tong Sang's To Tatou Aia ,Jean-Christophe Bouissou's Rautahi party.

But the news agency, Pacnews, says Mr Tong Sang called a crisis meeting earlier this week for his political group, urging its MPs to reunite for the sake of voting the budget.

All six components of the To Tatou Aia turned up at the meeting, except Mr Bouissou.

On Wednesday, Oceania Flash reported the budget was finally passed by 29 votes for and 28 abstentions.

After the vote, Mr Tong Sang, lashed out at Mr Bouissou, saying the fact of entering into negotiations with the opposition should mean he should no longer be his party's parliamentary caucus leader.