14 Apr 2006

Wanted Kanak leader in New Caledonia dismisses claims he is a dangerous activist

4:10 pm on 14 April 2006

A wanted leader of a New Caledonian Kanak group, Raphael Mapou, has hit back at media reports describing him as a dangerous activist following the attack by his supporters on the Goro Nickel construction site two weeks ago.

Mr Mapou, who has been in hiding, says he is leading a legitimate struggle to protect the land of his ancestors to the benefit of all New Caledonians as well as future generations.

His message was sent to the local newspaper, Les Nouvelles Caledoniennes.

The attacks caused 10 million US dollars in damage to vehicles and installations, prompting the operators to shut down construction work indefinitely.

Mr Mapou is quoted as saying that it is legitimate to damage equipment which are used as weapons to destroy the environment.

There have been demonstrations in Noumea to demand France to act in an effort to ensure the two-billion US dollar project goes ahead.