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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 June, 2004, 03:31 GMT 04:31 UK
New leader for French Polynesia
Oscar Temaru
Temaru has five days to form a government
A politician who favours independence has become president of the Pacific territory of French Polynesia.

Oscar Temaru was backed by 30 of the 57 deputies in the territorial assembly.

He replaces the conservative pro-French Gaston Flosse, who has been in office for almost two decades, but whose party lost last month's elections.

Mr Temaru said he would hold firm to his ideal of independence from France, but added it might be 20 years before the conditions were right.

"I declare solemnly that in 10, 15 or 20 years when the political, economic and social conditions are ripe, we'll then be able to raise the question of self-determination," he said.

Mr Temaru has long been a critic of French nuclear testing in the South Pacific archipelago, which President Jacques Chirac brought to an end in the mid-1990s.

Mr Temaru also said he would try to boost tourism, develop local industries and encouraging greater use of Polynesian languages.


Mr Temaru's Independent Front for the Liberation of Polynesia (IFLP) won a narrow victory in legislative elections three weeks ago, in a result which he himself described as "unexpected".

Gaston Flosse's Tahoeraa Huiraatira party won 27 seats - the same as the IFLP - but Mr Temaru formed a coalition with the remaining three deputies.

Mr Flosse alleged that May's elections were fraudulent, and all the Tahoeraa Huiraatira members boycotted the presidential vote.

Mr Temaru must now form a government within five days.

But he gave a tough assessment of the task ahead, calling for "work and effort" and saying the budget deficit was "too large to bridge".

He solicited support from the opposition, saying all sides should "calm down and work together".

To develop the fishing industry, he said there would be no more agreements with other Pacific nations. Instead, the new port on the main island of Tahiti would work "in coordination" with local fishermen.

Under Mr Flosse's presidency, French Polynesia gained increased autonomy, while retaining funding from the French government for health care and other social programmes.

Mr Temaru said he favoured retaining the Euro and entering into new discussions with Brussels on French Polynesia's status in the European Union.

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