5 Dec 2005

French Polynesian weekend rally for autonomy

3:12 pm on 5 December 2005

A group calling itself patriots has held a weekend rally in French Polynesia in favour of autonomy.

Several hundred people heeded the call by the group's leader, Emile Vernier, for a march around Papeete.

Although the marchers included supporters of the opposition's Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party, Mr Vernier denounced the party's member of the French assembly, Beatrice Vernaudon.

He described her address to the assembly in Paris as shameful for selling out French Polynesia.

Only hours before the rally, Mrs Vernaudon publicly praised the territorial government's fiscal reform for taking into account economic and social issues.

The reform is being amended after a four-day general strike which saw a group of unions block road access to Papeete and its port in an action that the French high commission said was illegal.