15 Apr 2011

Penchard begins New Caledonia crisis talks

1:52 pm on 15 April 2011

The French overseas territories minister, Marie-Luce Penchard, will today begin consultations with New Caledonian leaders in Noumea in a bid to end an unprecedented political crisis.

Four collegial governments have collapsed in the past two month while a new coalition within the Congress has decided to put off any scheduled government election to avoid further resignations by the Caledonia Together Party.

Mrs Penchard is reportedly scheduled to hold 13 different meetings to gauge views amid a demand by a majority of Congress members to change the basic law linked to the Noumea Accord.

The crisis erupted in February over which flag should be used to express the territory's identity.

Since last year, most public buildings fly both the Kanak and the French flag.

A march was held last week attended by thousands calling for the adoption of a new flag.