10 May 2004

Re-elected New Caledonia veteran politician Lafleur resigns

3:17 pm on 10 May 2004

New Caledonia's veteran leader, Jacques Lafleur, has resigned from his seat in the assembly of the southern province, just a day after being re-elected to the seat.

Mr Lafleur, who has been the leader of the anti-independence Rassemblement since its foundation 27 years ago, made the announcement on a local radio station at midday.

He says he has already vacated his office.

This comes after yesterday's losses to the Future Together group, an alliance of Rassemblement dissidents and other opposition figures.

In 2002, Mr Lafleur had announced he would resign after the last term but last month he relaunched his political career by leading the Rassemblement list.

The pro-independence candidates suffered setbacks and among all its factions they command only a third of all seats in the new territorial congress.

In the southern province, the National Front led by Guy George is seen as a possible kingmaker, but the leader of the Future Together list, Marie Noelle Themereau, has rejected the idea of a formal coalition with the National Front.