20 Jun 2006

French Polynesia asks France to act over port protests

7:45 pm on 20 June 2006

The French Polynesian government has asked the French high commission to send security forces to the port of Papeete to suppress the rebellion by some members of the former GIP intervention force.

This comes after a senior official was assaulted by some men loyal to the former GIP boss, Rere Puputauki.

Walter Zweifel reports.

"Mr Puputauki's supporters continue to occupy a key building in the port after dismantling an illegal blockade that last week brought all work in the port to a halt. A minister, James Salmon, says the situation is intolerable and he says it has prompted President Oscar Temaru to write to the French high commissioner twice to demand that the security forces restore law and order. Mr Puputauki, who is an associate of the opposition's Gaston Flosse, has repeatedly blocked the port access with impunity and only ended the last blockade after employers threatened to close businesses and lay off staff. The opposition blames the government for the stand-off, saying it wants to provoke at all costs in a bid to exacerbate an already tense situation."