19 Apr 2011

France's UMP backs New Caledonia's two-flag practice

6:53 pm on 19 April 2011

The secretary-general of France's ruling UMP Party has spoken out in favour of New Caledonia using both the French and Kanak flags.

Jean-Francois Cope made the comment in Noumea - two days after the French overseas territories minister, Marie-Luce Penchard, ended talks in New Caledonia aimed at settling an unprecedented political crisis triggered over the flag issue.

The dispute over the flag choice has prompted four government collapses in two months, which Paris is now countering with a law change.

Mr Cope has likened the idea of the joint use of the two flags to extending a hand and a bold gesture.

He has also urged the fractured anti-independence side to unite as next year France will hold a presidential election, and he warned that nothing would be worse for the country than seeing the Socialists back in power.