26 Nov 2009

Leaving jail, Flosse in line for French Polynesian government top job

3:49 pm on 26 November 2009

French Polynesia's veteran politician, Gaston Flosse, has been released from Tahiti's jail after just over two weeks in preventive detention.

Also released from detention is the French advertising executive, Hubert Haddad, who had been held for seven months over the so-called OPT affair which centres of allegations that he paid kickbacks to Mr Flosse's Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party.

Their release was ordered by the head of the appeal court in Tahiti, defying a request by the prosecutor to extend their jailing to prevent the suspects from possibly exerting pressure onto witnesses.

This comes as a senior Tahoeraa member, Edouard Fritch, says Mr Flosse could become the vice-president of the government about to be formed.

The Tahoeraa has in recent weeks sided with the To Tatou Aia of Gaston Tong Sang whose motion of no confidence succeeded yesterday in ousting the government of Oscar Temaru.

Mr Tong Sang says the government will have 12 ministers and Mr Fritch says one of them could be Mr Flosse.

Mr Fritch has also said discussions about this have been held for some time and Mr Flosse could for example become the finance minister.

In September, Flosse was given a suspended jail sentence for abuse of public funds as the territory's president.

The court also stripped him of his political mandates but he has continued in office by appealing that ruling in the French supreme court.