9 Nov 2004

Unionists in French Polynesia plan a major demonstration tomorrow

7:38 pm on 9 November 2004

The French high commission has warned of traffic problems in Papeete ahead of tomorrow's planned demonstration by unionists over collapsed pay talks in French Polynesia's unprecedented political crisis.

The union march coincides with a general strike amid repeated calls for a fresh general election following last month's ousting of the Oscar Temaru-led coalition in a vote of no confidence brought by supporters of the veteran leader, Gaston Flosse.

Mr Temaru has not recognised Mr Flosse's subsequent election as president, with appeals still pending in France's highest court.

And Mr Temaru has called for a three-member leadership group to now be formed ahead of general elections which could be held within about three months.

The three would be Mr Temaru, Mr Flosse and a former French high commissioner, Jean Aribaud, who speaks Tahitian and served in Papeete until 2001.

He says he doesn't accept the recommendation by France's highest court to hold fresh elections only in the Tahiti/Moorea electorate because of polling irregularities but wants the entire territory to choose a new assembly.

Mr Temaru is being supported by all parties except Mr Flosse's Tahoeraa Huiraatira in his renewed and formal call on the French President Jacques Chirac to dissolve the assembly, saying he is the only one who can bring a political solution to a political problem.