5 Nov 2004

Threat of violence rises in French Polynesia as industrial unrest deepens

3:04 pm on 5 November 2004

A non-governmental leader in French Polynesia says the only solution for the deadlocked French territory is for re-elected president, Gaston Flosse, to resign.

The are new fears of violence, with two main rival governments both attempting to rule, and there is growing industrial unrest.

As a key court decision is awaited in France, workers in Papeete are blockading government offices and calling a general strike for Monday.

Gabriel Tetiarahi, the head of the Hiti Tau non-governmental group, says pressure is building in France, too, for fresh general elections.

But Mr Tetiarahi says unless it is ordered by the court, the French President, Jacques Chirac, is unlikely to rule against his close ally, Gaston Flosse, in calling such elections.

So Mr Tetiarahi says it is up to Mr Flosse to resolve the crisis by resigning.

"The key is not with Jacques Chirac. I think the key is with Gaston Flosse himself. I think for the benefit of this country, of my country, I think that it is now time for Gaston Flosse to stop any political activities, you see, to stop his reign. It's finished now."

Gabriel Tetiarahi says more demonstrations are likely in Papeete.

And he adds there are not enough gendarmes in the territory to control the large numbers that can be expected to turn out.

Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce head, Guilloux Abner, says there is a heightened chance of violence erupting in Papeete because of the growing industrial action.

Today some buildings are blocked by the people from Oscar Temaru's party. We fear that people from the GIP or from Gaston Flosse's party will try to enter these buildings. There is a risk that there will be a fight.