F. Polynesias Flosse
by Marianas Variety
French Polynesias former President Gaston Flosse
and his son-in-law Edouard Fritch have both
been re-elected at the weekend at the helm of
the French Pacific territory’s former
ruling party, the pro-French Tahoeraa Huiraatira.
While Flosse was retained as the president of the party he founded in the late 1970s, Fritch has been given the new title of “president-delegate,” which de facto designates him as Flosse’s designated successor.
The election took place near French Polynesia’s capital Pape’ete, in Flosse’s stronghold of Pirae and was reported to have gathered up to 4,000 party supporters.
Throughout 2007, the Tahoeraa Huiraatira experienced internal tensions, with one of its prominent members, Gaston Tong Sang being de facto expelled from his own party after he was elected president.
Tong Sang was ousted in a motion of no confidence in September.
The motion was supported by both the Union for Democracy pro-independence movement headed by Oscar Temar and by Flosse’s Tahoeraa.
After some 20 years of open confrontation along pro- and anti-independence lines, Flosse and Temaru, in July 2007, struck an unexpected alliance to oust Tong Sang.
Tong Sang has since formed his own political party.
Meanwhile, all parties in French Polynesia have now submitted their respective lists of candidates ahead of snap general elections scheduled in two rounds, on Jan. 27 and Feb. 10.
The deadline for the filing of party lists had been set at Dec. 31, mid-day, local time.
The poll is a direct result of a new set of acts passed late 2007 by the French parliament.
The acts were regarded as a response by the French government and its State Secretary for Overseas Christian Estrosi, in order to put an end to some three years of chronic political instability in its French Pacific dependency.
Since the last general election of 2004, which were marked by an end of Tahoeraa’s 20-year grip on power, not less than five presidents, alternatively pro-French and pro-independence, have been ousted in motions of no-confidence caused by changes of allegiance from MPs who have constantly crossed the floor.
As a prerequisite to those new rules, which are articulated along good governance, anti-corruption, transparency and accountability guidelines, the mandate of French Polynesia’s local 57-member legislative assembly is shortened and a new poll takes place in the coming weeks.
From the onset, Estrosi’s Acts and his hands-on approach were met with staunch opposition from the local House, which in October even passed a resolution expressing differences with the new texts.
Ten days ago, Temaru, who is French Polynesia’s current president, led an estimated 1,000 taking part in a march in the streets of Pape’ete.
The march also coincided with a new attempt, by way of petition, to have French Polynesia reintegrate the list of non-sovereign countries to be decolonized.