27 Jun 2012

Confusion over delay of MSG's New Caledonia mission

7:09 pm on 27 June 2012

There is continued confusion over why this weekend's visit by a Melanesian Spearhead Group delegation to New Caledonia has been called off.

The pro-independence FLNKS movement, which was to host the MSG ministerial delegation, says MSG chair and Fiji regime leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, could not get a French visa in time.

However, the French High Commission in Noumea says there was no inquiry from Fiji.

On Tuesday, the Fiji interim foreign minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, announced that the trip had been postponed to a later date at a more appropriate time because of political developments in New Caledonia.

He didn't clarify what changed in the four days since he met MSG diplomats in Suva to finalise the logistical arrangements and the programme for the visit.

The week-long MSG mission was to look at the implementation of the Noumea Accord on greater autonomy and prepare for next year's silver jubilee of the MSG in New Caledonia.

In April, a leading anti-independence politician, Philippe Gomes, called on France to stop Commodore Bainimarama from visiting because there was no call to host the region's only dictator.