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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 October, 2004, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Polynesia fails to elect new head
Oscar Temaru
Temaru says the way out of the crisis is to hold new elections
French Polynesia's territorial assembly has failed to elect a new leader for want of a quorum.

The territory's separatists, who lost power 10 days ago, boycotted the assembly on Wednesday.

A new session will be held on Friday, when a quorum will not be needed and a vote can be taken by a simple majority.

Ousted separatist leader Oscar Temaru, backed by thousands who marched at the weekend, has called for the assembly to be dissolved and new polls to be held.

He has demanded the suspension and cancellation of the motion of no confidence that led to his ousting in a court in Papeete, Tahiti.

The motion was approved by a majority of MPs 10 days ago.

Mr Temaru says the motion put to the vote was signed by only six MPs, when 12 should have signed it, making it therefore invalid.

Heavy atmosphere

On Wednesday, only 29 representatives attended the parliamentary session, but 35 - or three-fifths - out of 57 are needed to elect a new president.

The atmosphere at the assembly meeting was "heavy in every sense of the word", as the assembly president - who opposed holding the session - switched off the air conditioning, reports say.

French Overseas Territories Minister Brigitte Girardin said she was not worried about the situation in French Polynesia.

"I simply want to point out to you that Mr Temaru's last election took place under the same conditions - that is in two separate phases," she told French radio.

"At first there had not been the necessary quorum of three-fifths and Mr Temaru's election took 11 days, after the election of the assembly."

In May, Mr Temaru became the first pro-independence leader to be elected in French Polynesia, defeating the former conservative president, Gaston Flosse - a close ally of French President Jacques Chirac who had been in office for years.

Mr Flosse, whose party tabled the motion of censure against Mr Temaru, has said he will stand in the presidential vote.

Tahiti crisis sparks mass protest
18 Oct 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Polynesian separatists lose power
10 Oct 04  |  Asia-Pacific
New leader for French Polynesia
15 Jun 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Tahiti rally demands Flosse resign
06 Dec 99  |  Asia-Pacific
Regions and territories: French Polynesia
28 Sep 04  |  Country profiles

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