25 Feb 2013

Major split in New Caledonia anti-independence party

6:34 am on 25 February 2013

There has been a major split within New Caledonia's once dominant anti-independence party.

The leader of the Rassemblement-UMP, Pierre Frogier, has suspended his deputy, Gael Yanno, and the party's acting secretary general, Sonia Backes, who is also the territorial government's official spokesperson.

In a letter to them now made public, Mr Frogier accuses the two of purporting to refresh the party but feels their political line is so conservative that they are taking the party back 25 years.

The Rassmblement-UMP is the successor party of the RPCR, which signed the 1998 Noumea Accord.

In the lead-up to the 2004 election it suffered a major setback, which was repeated in the last election, and last year it lost the territory's two seats in the French National Assembly to the rival anti-independence Caledonia Together Party.

French attempts to reunite the increasingly fractured anti-independence camp have been unsuccessful.