10 Jun 2014

Ligeard cautious over referendum

7:36 am on 10 June 2014

New Caledonia's new president says she hopes the territory can have a referendum on the fate of its French connection without reliving past bloodshed.

Cynthia Ligeard became the territory's second female president late last week and is cautiously optimistic the prospects are good for a peaceful independence referendum, due in the next five years.

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Photo: RNZ

Ms Ligeard, who supports New Caledonia remaining a special part of France, said on Sunday peoples' strong memories are a powerful motivator for a non-violent process but she says there are no guarantees.

She says the threat of extremism is still there and that is something that needs to be kept an eye on.

Ms Ligeard who is the former tourism board head says economic and social reform are high on her agenda during her term in office and she is keen to increase airline access and boost traveller numbers with a particular focus on Australians.

She also plans to tackle domestic violence.