A leading New Caledonian anti-independence politician is urging the French government to pay top-level attention to the end of the Noumea Accord, which provides for an independence referendum next year.
Pierre Frogier, who is now a member of the French Senate, made the comment in an interview with Noumea's daily newspaper.
He said he takes little assurance from the new French leadership, which has not professed that it wants New Caledonia to stay within France, but instead said it would be at the side of New Caledonians.
Mr Frogier said legally that means nothing, which makes him suspect that Paris might prefer New Caledonia becoming independent as an associate state of France.
He said with next year's referendum, a 30-year phase of consensus ends and there will be a winner and a loser.
In the lead-up to it, he said, there was a risk of a government crisis and there were serious economic problems, which he said warrants top attention by Paris.