Dissidents seize French Polynesian government buildings

Members of French Polynesia's dissolved GIP intervention force and members of the striking O Oe Te Rima Union have seized the presidential palace, territorial assembly and other government assembly in Papeete.

They demanded President Oscar Temaru return from the Pacific Islands Forum in Fiji to the Tahitian city, Radio New Zealand International reported.

The dissidents and strikers drove vehicles into the palace grounds on Monday night, after lifting road blocks they set up two weeks ago around the capital, protesting the high cost of living.

Former GIP leader Leonard Puputauki wanted to talk with the president on a range of issues, including compensation for the force's members and lower petrol prices.

Police have not intervened in the occupation, which a spokesperson for the French Polynesian government termed an "insurrection".

The French state, which is responsible for security in French Polynesia, has tolerated all illegal road blocks so far.

The French High Commissioner had yet to comment on the latest developments and is due to fly to the Pacific Forum leaders' meeting in Fiji today.

Before it was dissolved, the Polynesian Intervention Group (GIP) was responsible to the French Polynesian Government for areas like security, park maintenance, cleaning and some maritime duties.

In April last year striking GIP workers blocked a road bridge, preventing New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff from making a scheduled visit to Tahiti's port.

- NZPA / NZ HERALD STAFF

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