8 Aug 2012

Delayed MSG visit to New Caledonia due next week

6:21 pm on 8 August 2012

The Melanesian Spearhead Group's delayed visit to New Caledonia is now to go ahead next week after the group dropped its chair, Fiji's Commodore Frank Bainimarama, from leading the delegation.

The week-long trip was deferred in late June - only days after it had been announced, with Fiji citing political developments in Noumea.

A reliable source says the visit to look at the territory's decolonisation process will now be led by Fiji's interim foreign minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola.

The trip is also to prepare next year's MSG summit in New Caledonia, when the pro-independence FLNKS movement will play host.

The FLNKS says Commodore Bainimarama's visit last month was blocked by the European Union but the French embassy in Suva said the Fiji leader never applied for a visa.

The deferral also followed the election success of a New Caledonia's Philippe Gomes who said while he welcomed an MSG delegation there was no call to host the region's only dictator.