11 Apr 2006

New Caledonian Kanak leader says activists want the UN to act as mediators

5:47 am on 11 April 2006

A New Caledonian Kanak leader says activists want the United Nations to act as mediators in the Goro Nickel conflict.

Goro Nickel shut down operations on the two billion US dollar project last week after massive vandalism by Kanaks opposed to aspects of it.

Friday's roundtable talks sponsored by the French government were unsuccessful after representatives of the Kanak activist group walked out, saying the meeting was pointless.

Kanak leader, Roch Wamytan, says they are now looking for outside help.

"We have asked the United Nations, the committee of 24, the committee of decolonisation, to make mediation in this conflict between the Inco company, the Southern province and French state, and us, the committee Rheebu Nuu."

Mr Wamytan says Rheebu Nuu has concerns about the environmental impact of the project and wants a fund for royalties to be paid to the indigenous people to be set up.

But the New Caledonian minister for economic development and mining said earlier the government rejects suggestions of a royalty payment.