27 Mar 2014

New Caledonia capital mayoralty race tightens

4:26 pm on 27 March 2014

The widow of New Caledonia's pro-independence leader, Jean-Marie Tjibaou, has heeded a call by the woman candidate for the Noumea mayoralty to back her in Sunday's run-off of the municipal election.

Marie-Claude Tijbaou's list, which failed to make the second round, is now supporting Sonia Lagarde of the anti-independence Caledonia Together Party.

Mrs Lagarde won most votes in the first round but Gael Yanno, who came a close second, has now reconciled with his erstwhile rival within the UMP camp for the run-off vote.

Mrs Lagarde is one of the territory's members of the French National Assembly and would have to quit her Paris post if she wins the mayor's race.

In response to its poor result in the first round, the pro-independence National Unitary Movement has called its supporters to express their displeasure by casting blank ballots.

Among those seeking re-election in the run-off are the territory's president, Harold Martin.