8 Dec 2006

Senior politician in French Polynesian says foreigners overtaking country

5:17 pm on 8 December 2006

A senior member of the ruling party in French Polynesia has criticised the French government for allowing what he describes as an invasion of strangers.

Ruben Teremate sparked off an uproar in the assembly when he said that popa'a or foreigners could take over the country.

He compared foreigners with bamboo, saying foreign immigration was spreading out of control.

Opposition members who support continued French control of immigration into the territory attacked Mr Teremate as a racist.

President Oscar Temaru defended Mr Teremate as a realist not a racist, saying he could not be faulted for telling the truth.

One government adviser said controversy over allegations of racism could be avoided by giving the territory control of immigration.