19 Jun 2003

French overseas minister signs deal to build 500 homes for cyclone victims

12:11 pm on 19 June 2003

The French minister in charge of overseas territories, Brigitte Girardin, has wrapped up her visit to New Caledonia, signing a deal to build 500 homes for victims of Cycloe Erica which hit last March.

She briefly stopped on the Isle of Pines and was told in Noumea to convey to President Jaques Chirac an invitation to spend at least half a day with the Kanaks when he visits next month.

The deputy president of the RPCR in the southern province, Jean-Claude Briault, says the old melanesians know they owe their full French citizenship to Charles de Gaulle.

During her visit the minister held talks on the 1998 accord on greater autonomy in New Caledonia's northern province.

The RPCR leader, Jacques Lafleur, said he understood the Kanak's position on demanding a freeze of the electorate ahead of future key votes in New Caledonia.

A leader of the pro-independence FLNKS, Paul Neaoutyine, says things are clear if the RPCR says it understands the issue.

France is yet to change the constitution to restrict voting rights as it had promised five years ago.