15 Sep 2004

Date yet to be set for New Caledonia's Noumea Accord review committee meeting

1:48 pm on 15 September 2004

The annual review of the 1998 Noumea Accord is in doubt following comments by the leader of New Caledonia's anti-independence Rassemblement Party, Jacques Lafleur.

The accord was signed by Mr Lafleur, the pro-independence FLNKS movement and the French state to define the process of greater autonomy in the lead-up to a possible referendum on independence before 2018.

Mr Lafleur, whose party lost its dominance in last May's election, told the Nouvelles Caledoniennes newspaper after talks in Paris that it's not certain that the Rassemblement will attend an accord review meeting.

Such meetings are to be held each year and the last was in June last year.

Mr Lafleur says the newly-formed Future Together Party, whose leader has become the territory's new president, is not a signatory of the accord.

But the new president, Marie-Noelle Themereau, who is also on a visit to Paris, says France plans to hold an accord review committee meeting early next year.

Mr Lafleur also told the newspaper that independence is out of the question and that the first victims of those who seek independence would be the Melanesians.