18 Feb 2009

French Polynesia's newly-elected President finalises his Cabinet

6:42 am on 18 February 2009

French Polynesia's newly-elected President, Oscar Temaru, has finalised the line-up of his cabinet.

The move follows intense and protracted negotiations between his party, the Union for democracy, and the two other political groups that have backed him last week in his return to the top post.

The announcement for the new Cabinet was made only two hours before a deadline for Mr Temaru to name his line up.

If he had failed, he would have been deemed to have resigned and the process of yet another election for a President would have had to take place in the local Parliament.

One of Mr Temaru's closest allies, Tony Géros, a former minister and Speaker of Parliament, has been chosen as his Vice President.

Mr Géros is also Minister for Municipalities' Development, Minister for Land Affairs and government spokesman.

Most of the ministers appointed on Monday have already held portfolios under previous Temaru-led governments.

Many have been given the same portfolios they had held previously in past Temaru cabinets, or even more recently, under a short-lived Flosse-led government early 2008.

This includes Georges Puchon Minister of Economy and Finance; Jacqui Drollet is the Minister of Tourism; the Minister of Maritime Resources is Teva Rohfritsch; Jean-Marius Raapoto is the Minister of Education; the Minister of Health is Jacques Raynal; Pierre Frébault is the Minister of Labour and Employment; Tauhiti Nena is the Minister of Youth and Sports, and Georges Handerson is the Minister of Environment.

Among the few newcomers are Thomas Moutame, Minister of Outer Islands Development and Eric Pommier, a former Chairman of French Polynesia's international airline Air Tahiti Nui, who now becomes Minister for Air, Sea and Land Transport.

Before his election last week, Mr Temaru vowed to maintain a strong majority, for the sake of stability in French Polynesia.

He had the backing of 37 of the 57 MPs at his election last week.

For the past five years, French Polynesia had seen constant shifts in political alliances, causing in turn as many as seven changes of governments as a result of votes of motions of no confidence.

Mr Temaru, since 2004, has been French Polynesia's President four times.

This week, he assured the new majority and the government it supports would remain in place until the next general elections, in 2013.