17 Mar 2011

New Caledonia readies for another government election

8:06 am on 17 March 2011

New Caledonia's Congress is due to meet today to elect a new collegial government - the second in two weeks.

The government of Harold Martin fell within minutes of its election because a minister of the Caledonia Together Party resigned.

That government was elected two weeks after the government led by Philippe Gomes collapsed.

His administration was brought down amid a dispute over what the future flag of New Caledonia should be, with Mr Gomes insisting on the adoption of a new emblem to express the territory's identity.

His side is again expected to resign immediately as part of a campaign to force Paris to call fresh general elections.

Meanwhile, the pro-independence Caledonian Union still wants the Kanak flag to be made a second official flag to be used next to the French tricolore.

The anti-independence Rassemblement-UMP welcomed the Caledonian Union's resignation last month but now says it is against a law making the Kanak flag an official one.

The two flags were hoisted jointly last year for the first time officially by the French prime minister, Francois Fillon, during his visit to Noumea.