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PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse Oct. 10) – The French Polynesia Assembly erupted in pandemonium on Saturday when a knife-wielding man was subdued after an apparent attempt to stab former president Gaston Flosse.

The attack – dismissed by President Oscar Temaru as a staged event – came during debate on a motion to censure Temaru as French Polynesia’s president.

Despite live television coverage of Friday’s incident and two pages of sequence photos published in one of Tahiti’s two French daily newspapers Saturday, it was difficult to determine who, if anyone, was the man’s target.

The incident occurred after Friday’s debate had just been adjourned for the day with the session scheduled to resume Saturday morning. As the Assembly members started to file out of the hemicycle, a man entered armed with a fairly large switchblade knife. Flosse was the most important political leader closest to the man, who was immediately overcome by Flosse’s personal bodyguards.

A visibly shocked Flosse later told the media, "I was in my place," referring to his Assembly desk. "I started to arrange my belongings when this man came at me with a knife to stab me in the back. I didn’t see him. I was in the process of arranging my belongings."

One Flosse bodyguard immediately seized the armed man.

It the first time anyone had ever been seized wielding a weapon inside the Assembly’s hemicycle.

Flosse immediately described the incident as an assassination attempt, while Temaru said the incident was "deplorable", but claimed it had been "premeditated by those wanted to regain power. I think it’s cinema," Temaru said. "It’s a put-up job by our political opponents."

October 11, 2004



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