28 Oct 2004

French Polynesia public service set to fall into disarray

8:16 am on 28 October 2004

French Polynesia's public service is set to fall into disarray, as it's being given rival instructions by two presidents claiming to be in charge.

Gaston Flosse's government has also seized the courts to end what he calls the illegitimate occupation of the presidential palace.

And Oscar Temaru says his caretaker role will only end, once the highest court in Paris has thrown out his challenge to the way Mr Flosse was elected last week.

Radio New Zealand International's news editor, Walter Zweifel, is in the French Polynesian capital:

"The political standoff appears to harden, with Mr Temaru again stating that he has the people's backing, who in growing numbers, joined the protest at the palace."

Mr Flosse says his rival is using the church and prayers to spread hate, adding that Mr Temaru has accused him of killing a local journalist seven years ago.

The journalist's disappearance remains a mystery, but speaking in the assembly last week, Mr Flosse swore before God and the Polynesian people that he never ordered or wished anybody's death.

In the legal turmoil surrounding the political process, another man claiming to be president, Rene Hoffer, was taken in by police for trying to enter the president's office but let go after a psychiatric assessment.