13 Jan 2006

French Polynesia president dissolves intervention force

10:14 am on 13 January 2006

The French Polynesian president, Oscar Temaru, has dissolved the Polynesian Intervention Group, known as the GIP which was set up in the 1990's as a disaster relief unit.

Since the government came to power in March last year, Mr Temaru has battled with the GIP which shut down the Papeete port and its industrial zone three times.

A spokesman for Mr Temaru, Gufariua Remuna, says the 956 members have been transferred to the minister of equipment and that the mandate of the group is to be redefined.

Mr Remuna says the GIP is not the powerful force it used to be.

"They won't have power as they had in Gaston Flosse's time. Now most of them they follow Oscar Temaru politics. Only a few of them, 20 or 30 of them, they try to take a hard position. That's all. If they try to block the roads, that's the High Commissioner's job, that's not our job."

The interim head of the group, Yannick Boosie, couldn't be reached for comment.

The former GIP boss, Leonard Puputauki, has threatened to call a strike involving all the group's members, including those who work on its vessels and in the outer islands.

Mr Puputauki has named himself leader of a new union called Solidarity.