26 Nov 2004

French Polynesians occupying government buildings given 72 hours to leave

11:35 am on 26 November 2004

France's Supreme Court has given people occupying French Polynesia's lands ministry and Presidential Palace 72 hour to lift their blockade of the buildings.

French Polynesian rival politicians have been holding bilateral talks with the French overseas territories minister, Brigitte Girardin, in Paris in a bid to end the political crisis in the territory.

The French government and French Polynesia's re-elected president, Gaston Flosse, are against a dissolution of the territorial assembly.

But all other parties in French Polynesia and the territory's main church want voters in all electorates to go to the polls.

French President Jacques Chirac says he is hopeful that a solution can be reached by the weekend when the talks are scheduled to end.

Speaking in Libya, and commenting for the first time on the Tahiti crisis, Mr Chirac said the territory needed better than disputes of that kind.

He said he had discussions with Mr Flosse before leaving for Libya while Mr Flosse told a Tahiti newspaper that he didn't demand that he could talk with Mr Chirac.

Back in Tahiti, the occupations of some public buildings have been lifted but Sabrina Birk, a former MP in the ousted coalition led by Oscar Temaru says his supporters are still reluctant to leave the land department and the palace.

"They respect Oscar Temaru, they respect him, but they do not want to let go of the presidency, I have noticed, and the headquarters of the land department."

Former French polynesian MP, Sabrina Birk.

Another Temaru supporter, Jacqui Drollet, has accused the new President Gaston Flosse, of spending millions of dollars on intimidation tactics.

Mr Drollet says Mr Flosse has recruited another 145 people for the presidential security group, known as the GIP, to stop Temaru supporters from occupying public buildings.

The GIP is unarmed and provides a range of services, such as disaster relief and crowd control but also runs an intelligence branch.

Mr Drollet says people are getting weary of Mr Flosse's tactics.

People are a little bit tired for the moment and perhaps they can have a very strong reaction. We don't know. But we ask them every day to stay soft and to wait for political discussion because in our point of view, this is a politic problem and we must have a politic answer.