20 May 2011

New Caledonia to elect new government in June

1:41 pm on 20 May 2011

The French prime minister, Francois Fillon, has announced that New Caledonia's Congress will elect a new collegial government in the first days of June, but no exact date has been given.

Mr Fillon made the announcement in Paris at the end of three days of talks with New Caledonian leaders aimed at solving the territory's political crisis.

Four governments in Noumea have collapsed this year amid a deepening row over which flag the territory should use.

Mr Fillon says next week, the French government will discuss planned changes to the electoral law, which will give future New Caledonian governments an 18-month grace period.

Under the current law, a single minister's resignation automatically triggers a fresh election within the Congress which has to be performed within two weeks.

After the last government collapse, the Congress agreed to no longer convene for an election, pending reforms, while Harold Martin was being retained to lead a caretaker administration.