Tension among Tahiti leaders over vaccination refusal

6:18 pm on 26 October 2021

There are ructions within French Polynesia's ruling Tapura Huiraatira party as two of its most senior members refuse to comply with the law making Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory.

The President of French Polynesia, Edouard Fritch

The President of French Polynesia, Edouard Fritch Photo: AFP

The party leader, President Edouard Fritch, said he has now given an ultimatum to both the vice president Tearii Alpha and to the president of assembly Gaston Tong Sang to get vaccinated.

Fritch said if they refuse, there will be consequences.

French Polynesia's housing minister, Tearii Alpha

French Polynesia's housing minister, Tearii Alpha Photo: AFP

Although he hasn't specified them, he said the matter must be settled.

The law making vaccinations compulsory for people dealing with the public was adopted in August and it was due to come into force at the end of last week, but the government postponed its application by two months to December.

Gaston Tong Sang

Gaston Tong Sang Photo: Alchetron

Alpha has said that he had a particular biological state, which he declined to specify, while Tong Sang said he has antibodies to protect him.

While the president can dismiss his deputy, the assembly president can only be removed by the assembly and only if the office holder is permanently incapacitated for either physical or mental reasons.

However, Tong Sang could be excluded from the Tapura.

At Alpha's wedding in August, both Fritch and Alpha defied Covid-19 regulations, but the two and other leaders present were not sanctioned.