11 May 2012

Hollande urged to pay attention to New Caledonia issue

1:01 pm on 11 May 2012

The head of New Caledonia's Rassemblement-UMP, Pierre Frogier, has called on the new French president, Francois Hollande, to pay the territory special attention because of pending key decisions.

During his presidency, New Caledonia's 1998 Noumea Accord will enter its final phase which includes a possible referendum on independence from France.

Mr Frogier says the territory cannot wait until 2014 but needs to discuss now what will happen after that date.

A number of leaders are worried that a simple vote for or against independence could yield a result that revives the kind of tensions that in the 1980s brought the territory to the brink of a civil war.

There have been suggestions that a new institutional arrangement should be found that defers a vote but provides for a system between autonomy and independence.

Mr Frogier says there is urgency because negotiations are yet to be held and a solution is yet to be invented.

During the electoral campaign, Mr Hollande declined to say whether he was for or against independence, saying the choice will be made by New Caledonians only and that he will respect their choice.