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Tahitian protesters call for president to resign

Written by: Staff
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NADI, Fiji, Oct 25 (Reuters) Tahitian protesters called for the resignation of President Oscar Temaru after riot police used tear gas to end an occupation of presidential and government buildings in what Temaru said was an attempted coup.

Tahitipresse (www.tahitipresse.pf) said protesters would stage a march in the South Pacific island territory tomorrow to demand Temaru resign as leader of French Polynesia.

It said they would also call for French High Commissioner Anne Boquet to resign after she ordered some 100 riot police to end an occupation of four government buildings on Monday. Tahiti is on the eastern side of the international dateline.

Temaru, in Fiji for a meeting of South Pacific leaders, said today the labour protests had become political.

''If this is not an attempted coup, what is it then?'' Temaru asked in a speech to forum leaders in which he accused Boquet of giving free rein to supporters of opposition leader Gaston Flosse.

''I can only regret and wonder why the French government has had such a 'laissez faire' position. My presence here certainly has something to do with it,'' he said.

Members of a former Tahitian government intervention force, dissolved by Temaru in January, stormed four buildings on Sunday after union roadblocks around the Tahitian capital Papeete were removed, said Tahitipresse.

Unionists had erected roadblocks from October 11 in protest at the high cost of living in Tahiti, which is financially supported by Paris.

The former intervention force members took control of government buildings demanding back pay and other labour issues be settled.

Tahitipresse said Commissioner Boquet had defended the use of riot police to end the protests.

''The operation was carried out with firmness and without incident. The occupation of public premises is illegal,'' Boquet told Tahitipresse. ''I invite each of the actors in the land to have more responsibility.

''Everything must be done and each one has his/her own role so that this conflict finds a balanced and final resolution so that the land can work and develop calmly and peacefully.'' REUTERS BDP BS1434

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