23 Jun 2006

French Polynesia's opposition warns of possible clashes

3:56 pm on 23 June 2006

French Polynesia's opposition Tahoeraa Huiraatira party has warned that the territory could be headed for serious clashes.

In a press statement, it says this could happen if the government keeps up its provocations by sending, as the party puts it, the government militia to the port.

The statement comes after a member of a group of men linked to the opposition Tahoeraa was arrested after assaulting a senior government official in the presence of television cameras and a notary official.

The group is part of the dissolved former GIP intervention force.

Its members are all on the government payroll but they defy orders by only taking instructions from Rere Puputauki who is an associate of Gaston Flosse, the former president convicted to a suspended prison sentence for corruption this week.

The rebellious group is still preventing the other workers from getting access to the port headquarters.

Last week, the group led by Mr Puputauki blocked the port for three days with impunity after the blockade was declared illegal.