31 Mar 2005

Former French Polynesian president says he had no contact with GIP rebels

10:31 am on 31 March 2005

The former French Polynesian president, Gaston Flosse, says he hasn't been in touch with the presidential intervention force, the GIP, which rebelled against the new government while he was in Paris.

The GIP, which has been labelled as his private army, forced President Oscar Temaru to dump Robert Maker as its new boss following a blockade of the port of Papeete last week.

On return from Paris, Mr Flosse has declined any comment about the rebellion or the way it was handled.

The French state called the insurrection a labour dispute and ignored a request by Mr Temaru to clear the access to the port.

Meanwhile, Mr Temaru failed to turn up at yesterday's meeting of the GIP.

Local television reports say several GIP members believed to be allied to Mr Maker were turned away from the GIP gathering.

And it says about 100 GIP members were at the presidential palace in a failed bid to meet Mr Temaru.

It is not known if the planned review of the 1,300-strong force will go ahead.