1 Apr 2005

NZ Foreign minister calls off visit to Tahiti port due to blockade

6:07 pm on 1 April 2005

New Zealand's Foreign Minister, Phil Goff, has been forced to call off a visit to Papeete port in Tahiti after a blockade by a group at loggerheads with new French Polynesian President Oscar Temaru.

The Presidential Intervention Force, the GIP, set up by former president Gaston Flosse, and described by the new government as "a sort of militia", has blocked the bridge linking Papeete with the port for the second time in two weeks.

The GIP has been protesting attempts by Mr Temaru to change their functions and leadership.

Mr Goff says the strike shows the difficulty of a transition from a government that had been in power for 20 years to a new administration.

He says demonstrations and strikes are not new in any democracy but the good thing in French Polynesia is that over the last 12 months there has been no violence involved.

Meanwhile, Edourd Fritch, Mr Flosse's son-in-law and the former vice-president, says their party had no link to the blockade.

Mr Fritch urges the GIP to end its action, saying it is bad for the economy.