16 Oct 2006

French Polynesian President calls on rivals to order end to union blockade

5:57 am on 16 October 2006

The French Polynesian president, Oscar Temaru, has called on his

political rivals, Gaston Flosse and Emile Vernaudon, to order an

end to the union blockade of Papeete, whose access roads have been

cut for three days.

A union says its unlimited strike and blockade is in protest at the

high cost of living.

But Mr Temaru says this is just a pretext for a political action as inflation in the territory at 3.5 percent is lower than in New Zealand or Australia.

The blockade, which is illegal and has forced businesses and schools to close, was eased for the weekend in the face of a public outcry over the disruptions by the union and members of the dissolved GIP intervention force.

The vice-president, Jacqui Drollet, has told local television that Mr Flosse is behind the roadblocks.

"Behind this is the hand of the devil and of people who were in power for 20 years, and as they were beaten democratically in an election, they cannot accept to find themselves in their current position. They will just have to wait until 2009."