25 Mar 2005

Blockade of French Polynesia's main port causes run on petrol

3:14 pm on 25 March 2005

A blockade of French Polynesia's main port has caused a run on petrol in Tahiti.

The presidential intervention group, the GIP, has shut down access to the port in what the French government says is no more than a labour dispute between the French Polynesian government and some of its employees.

Walter Zweifel reports.

"The blockade began just hours after President Oscar Temaru went on television to say that he won't give in to blackmail by the GIP which has refused to accept Robert Maker as its new boss. In a letter to Mr Temaru yesterday, a GIP leader gave the government 48 hours to resolve the issue or else the GIP would suspend its services. A government MP, Sabrina Birk, says the action is prompted by Gaston Flosse's election loss: "

They want to provoke us. And what is really bad is that the French state, the high commissioner, is not interfering in this and is letting the situation degenerate.

Mr Temaru has vowed to keep Mr Maker and threatened legal action against those defying him. The French high commission says measures are in place to ensure security. I'm Walter Zweifel.