27 May 2015

New Caledonia ministerial staff reinstated

5:26 pm on 27 May 2015

A court in New Caledonia has overturned a decision by the president, Philippe Germain, to sack the assistants of three of his ministers.

Mr Germain removed the support staff of three ministers shortly after his election in April but the three ministers argued in court that without the assistents, they cannot do their jobs properly, which also goes against the public interest.

The public broadcaster says the court decision is an interim ruling subject to further assessment of the case.

The row over the three ministers' staff is linked to ongoing deep rifts within the territory's anti-independence camp.

After the election last May, the anti-independence side formed a united front, but the power-sharing deal ended when Mr Germain's party pulled out in December and triggered the government's collapse.

In April, Mr Germain was chosen thanks to the support of pro-independence ministers within the collegial government, thereby defeating the other contender for the top job, Cynthia Ligeard, who had been the president for just over six months.

Mr Germain has described the three ministers, including Mrs Ligeard, as opposition members after they failed to endorse his candidacy.

Philippe Germain and Cynthia Ligeard

Philippe Germain and Cynthia Ligeard Photo: THEO ROUBY / AFP