18 Aug 2005

French Polynesian president issues ultimatum to GIP over latest blockade

9:11 pm on 18 August 2005

French Polynesia's president has given the GIP intervention force 24 hours to end its blockade of the port of Papeete.

Oscar Temaru went on television a day after about 300 members of the GIP led by their former boss, Rere Puputauki, began the blockade, purportedly to ensure continued employment of all 1,300 GIP members.

Mr Temaru says there will be severe consequences if they fail to return the equipment used to block the port access.

He says Mr Puputauki and his suppporters have paralysed the country's economy and taken the entire population hostage.

The French high commission has also issued a statement and asked for the GIP to follow the law.

In response to Mr Temaru, Mr Puputauki has vowed to harden his position.

In March, Mr Temaru backed down to Mr Puputauki's demands after vowing in a televised address not to give in to blackmail.