8 Apr 2011

Paris sends minister to deal with New Caledonia crisis

5:35 pm on 8 April 2011

Paris has announced that the French overseas territories minister, Marie-Luce Penchard, will visit New Caledonia next week to help find a solution to the territory's political crisis.

Four collegial governments have collapsed in the past two months, triggered by a dispute over which flag the territory should use.

Mrs Penchard is scheduled to be in Noumea from Thursday until Saturday to consult the political parties in order to restore the smooth working of the institutions.

In a statement, she says as the French state is the guarantor of the Noumea Accord, it will do what it takes to calm the situation.

Bitter rifts have emerged within the anti-independence side, with the Caledonia Together Party triggering the fall of the collegial government led by the Future Together Party three times in four weeks.

Last Saturday, the French high commission banned planned rival marches on the flag issue for security reasons.