24 Dec 2007

An estimated thousand people march in French Polynesia over Marquesas Islands

5:54 am on 24 December 2007

An estimated 1,000 people joined a demonstration in French Polynesia organised by the ruling Union For Democracy to protest against any changes to the status of the Marquesas Islands.

Last week, mayors in the archipelago had called for direct links with Paris by setting up a new colonial entity - a comment which caused an

outcry among politicians in Tahiti, but which was not rejected by French leaders.

The French Polynesian president, Oscar Temaru, has called for vigilance in the face of what he calls the colonisers' strategy to divide and rule.

He says France has done this in the Comoros which has led to the creation of the French territory of Mayotte but he says the French failed

in Algeria where they were chased away.

Mr Temaru says he is not against the French people, and says they are welcome to help build in French Polyensia because he says it is better to be a dustman in Tahiti than an engineer in Paris.

The pro-French To Tatou Aia Party of Gaston Tong Sang says the march was a failure and shows the government's disconnect with the people of French Polynesia.