20 May 2004

French Polynesia leader lambasts protest marchers

10:23 am on 20 May 2004

The President of French Polynesia has lashed out at organisers of an anti-government march,

Gaston Flosse described the poor turnout at a demonstration last weekend as a "stinging failure".

About 2,800 people joined a march organised by opposition parties in Tahiti, although organisers expected tens of thousands of people to turn up.

The march was jointly organised by four opposition parties: the pro-independence Tavini, the Ai'a Api, the Here Ai'a and the Mana Te Nunaa.

The rally was called to protest against the current government, and to demand change, ahead of French Polynesia's general elections, due to be held on May the 23rd.

The snap elections come as French Polynesia's territorial assembly was last month dissolved by French President Jacques Chirac, on Flosse's request.

It's the first ballot for French Polynesia under its new status as an overseas country within the French republic.