French Polynesia's ruling party has decided to endorse Alain Juppe of The Republicans in the primaries for next year's French presidential election.
The Tapura Huiraaitira announced its decision in statement after Mr Juppe had appointed a French Polynesian government minister Tearii Alpha as his campaign manager in Tahiti.
Mr Juppe visited Papeete in July, acknowledging the negative effects of the French nuclear weapons tests carried out in the South Pacific.
The rival anti-independence party, the Tahoeraa Huiraatira, is backing Nicolas Sarkozy after Mr Juppe declined an offer of support from the Tahoeraa leader Gaston Flosse.
The French Polynesian pro-independence leader Oscar Temaru is also running for the French presidency but it is not clear whether he can secure the endorsement needed across France to be eligible to stand.