TAHITI ‘GIP FORCE’ DEMANDS CONTRACT RENEWALS

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TAHITI ‘GIP FORCE’ DEMANDS CONTRACT RENEWALS

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, June 30) – The GIP [Groupe d'intervention de la Polynésie], a special security force in French Polynesia that blockaded the territory’s main port twice this year, says it wants to see the contracts of more than 200 of its members renewed by the end of August.

A spokesman for the GIP, Rere Puputauki, has told local television that if there is no agreement with the government, there will be unprecedented strikes and blockades.

The GIP, which was formed as a disaster relief unit in the 1990’s, was expanded to almost 1,300 members by the former government of Gaston Flosse late last year.

It rebelled against the new government of Oscar Temaru and closed the main port in Tahiti after he had appointed an advisor, Robert Maker, as the new GIP boss.

Under a deal brokered and guaranteed by the French state in April, Mr Puputauki’s deputy became the interim GIP head while a government-appointed lawyer, Christiane Athane was to be given access to all GIP files for its restructure.

Her review period ends next week and a new GIP head is to be chosen.

[PIR editor’s note: According to news story by Reporters Sans Frontières last November, members of the GIP were allegedly involved in the murder of journalist Jean-Pascal Couraud, who disappeared in French Polynesia in 1997. RSF reported that the allegation was made by a former GIP member, Vetea Guilloux, to a government minister. Guilloux claimed to have witnessed Couraud's murder by GIP forces under the orders of

President and former senator Gaston Flosse.]

July 1, 2005

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

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