24 Oct 2006

Police in French Polynesia use tear gas to end occupation of public buildings

6:17 pm on 24 October 2006

French riot police have used tear gas to break up a blockade of the French Polynesian assembly premises seized as part of a union protest.

The strikers, who included members of the disbanded GIP intervention force, requested the immediate return of President Oscar Temaru from the Pacific Islands Forum summit in Fiji to negotiate over their demands to have lower prices and the dissolution of the assembly.

Police moved against the remaining group of protesters after freeing another key government building and the presidential palace.

The occupation followed an 11-day strike during which Papeete was intermittently cut off by illegal road blocks.

The police action marked the first time that the French government has used police to break up illegal anti-government blockades since the Temaru administration came to power last year.

The order to use force was given by the high commissioner who cancelled her trip to the Forum in Fiji in light of the occupations.

It's not known if charges will be laid against those who seized the public buildings.