21 Feb 2004

French Polynesia Speaker punches MP during Territorial Assembly session

9:06 am on 21 February 2004

The president of the Territorial Assembly in French Polynesia, Speaker Lucette Taero, has assaulted an opposition MP during this morning's session.

The fight began after the independent MP, Loic Brigato, asked the Speaker about a crude description of her used earlier by the President Gaston Flosse.

Ms Taero asked her deputy to take her chair and then walked across the Assembly chamber, slapped Mr Brigato twice and then punched him.

Observers in the chamber say other assembly members and staff managed to seperate Ms Taero from her target, who did his best to keep her at a distance.

Mr Brigato says the Speaker laughed when Mr Flosse made the comment, which was in answer to a press conference question on whether a woman could ever become president.

Mr Flosse reportedly pointed toward Ms Taero and made the coarse comment - apparently a compliment to her strengths as a woman.

Mr Brigato is still considering whether to lay charges.