1 Apr 2016

Martin gloomy about New Caledonia

3:48 pm on 1 April 2016

A former New Caledonian president, Harold Martin, says the territory's economic situation is catastrophic and warns against moves towards independence.

Mr Martin said to appease the pro-independence camp, nothing is being said while the non-independence leaders mislead their followers by equating the referendum due in 2018 with independence.

In an interview with the territory's daily newspaper, he said a French envoy, who recently visited Noumea, was pushing a strategy which would see New Caledonia get what he called soft independence.

Mr Martin said the referendum should be brought forward to pave the way for negotiations on a follow-up accord to the Noumea Accord.

He claimed that otherwise people and investors would leave New Caledonia, and insecurity would grow so that in a few years some areas will become no-go zones.

Mr Martin said it was imperative that the government authorise the sale of low-level nickel next week as mining remained the main employer.

He said in some areas, the only alternative was growing cannabis.

New Caledonia politician Harold Martin

New Caledonia politician Harold Martin Photo: RNZI

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs