24 Oct 2006

Members of French Polynesia's dissolved GIP force seize presidential palace in capital

10:08 am on 24 October 2006

Members of French Polynesia's dissolved GIP intervention force have seized the presidential palace in Papeete and demand the return of President Oscar Temaru from the Forum in Fiji.

The ex-GIP members and the strikers of the O Oe Te Oe Rima union drove into the palace grounds overnight, and are now also occupying the territorial assembly and other government buildings.

The action also saw the strikers lift the road blocks around Papeete set up nearly two weeks ago in protest at the high cost of living.

The former GIP leader, Leonard Puputauki, wants talks on a range of issues including compensation for the force's members and lower petrol prices.

Police haven't intervened in the occupation which a French Polynesian government spokesman has described as an insurrection.

The French state, which is responsible for security, has tolerated all illegal road blocks so far.

The French high commissioner is yet to comment on the latest developments.

She is due to fly to the Forum leaders' meeting in Fiji today.