14 Jan 2008

French high commissioner restates terms of New Caledonia's Noumea accord

2:27 pm on 14 January 2008

The new French high commissioner to New Caledonia has clarified that the transfer of power from Paris to Noumea has to take place.

In an interview with the Nouvelles Caledoniennes newspaper, Yves Dassonville says this appears not to be clear to everybody, alluding to moves by mainly anti-independence leaders to question the validity of the 1998 Noumea accord on greater autonomy.

The document provides for a phased transfer of powers culminating a referendum on possible independence from France no later than in 2018.

Mr Dassonville says this transfer has to occur with a consensus and his role is to help find the compromises to implement the accord.

He has also commented on an industrial dispute in Noumea, saying the methods used by the USTKE union handicap the territory.