24 Mar 2005

French Polynesian leader goes on TV to say he will not be blackmailed by the GIP

7:38 pm on 24 March 2005

The French Polynesian president, Oscar Temaru, says he won't give into blackmail by the presidential intervention group which has refused to accept its new boss, Robert Maker.

The group, known as the GIP, has defied the new government for nearly two weeks and Mr Temaru has now called on its 12-hundred members to be loyal to the elected government.

Oscar Temaru has gone on television just hours after receiving a letter from a GIP leader, Yannick Boosie, warning that the group would stop its professional services if the crisis was not settled within 48 hours.

A core group of the GIP has rejected Mr Maker's appointment and remained loyal to Leonard Puputauki who, Mr Temaru says, has been sacked pending legal action.

Mr Temaru has now again appealed to the GIP to serve his government while announcing that its duties will be re-defined.

The GIP was set up as a disaster assistance team in the 1990's but has also included an intelligence unit which has been implicated in the disappearance of a journalist.

Reports say police have recently been advised that Mr Puputauki allegedly threatened to shoot Mr Maker, should he try to take over the GIP.

Last year, the Human Rights League called on France to dissolve the GIP, saying it was unworthy of a constitutional state to tolerate a militia.

But to date there has been no action from the French authorities which retain police powers in Tahiti.