26 Jul 2002

New Caledonia ruling coalition loses absolute majority in Congress

10:54 am on 26 July 2002

The New Caledonian government has dismissed one of its allied independent members, Raphael Mapou, in a rift which has cost the ruling coalition its absolute majority in the territorial Congress.

A report by the French news agency AFP quotes a government statement as saying Mr Mapou, who has been in charge of customary affairs, has been replaced the next person on the list of the partnership between the RPCR Party and the FCCI independents' group.

Mr Mapou had been opposed to a government policy of granting the Goro Nickel company additional prospecting rights.

He says his position has not changed since his group entered a partnership with the RPCR in 1999.

Two of the four FCCI congress members have sided with Mr Mapou and say they will remain as non-aligned members.

This deprives the ruling RPCR-led coalition of its majority in Congress.

The FCCI group will hold a conference in a week to discuss its internal problems.