17 Jun 2006

French Polynesian government minister describes blockade of port as rebellion

5:28 am on 17 June 2006

A French Polynesian government minister, James Salmon, has described the blockade of the port road in Papeete by workers loyal to an opposition associate as a rebellion.

The blockade of Tahiti's main port is in its third day and has been joined by disgruntled fishermen, who in a separate dispute have used trawlers and boats to block the entrance to the port.

The workers at the blockade say they have stopped all access to the port because a deal struck in January about staff deployment at the port has been reneged by the government, but Mr Salmon says he has no knowledge of any such arrangement.

Although the French state is to ensure freedom of movement and a court has ruled that the blockades are illegal, there has been no intervention.

The blockade at sea has now also stopped ferry traffic between Tahiti and Moorea.

The territory's president, Oscar Temaru, says the action is masterminded by the opposition to sully the image of his government as he is about to leave for Paris to attend the summit called by France with Pacific leaders.