2 Dec 2017

French PM speaks of 'considerable stakes' on New Caledonia visit

4:11 pm on 2 December 2017

The French prime minister says the stakes for New Caledonia are considerable, as he visits the territory less than a year out from an independence referendum.

Edouard Philippe arrived in Noumea on Saturday morning for a four-day visit where he will meet the government, as well as various pro- and anti-independence groups.

Speaking to the media, Mr Philippe said he hoped the referendum - the conclusion of a 30 year process involving two accords - goes smoothly.

Mr Philippe will spend the next four days touring New Caledonia, and will also attend a ceremony for the appointment of electoral list ambassadors.

The lists determine who will be able to participate in the referendum, which has proved an extremely sensitive subject in New Caledonia.

He will also participate in a meeting of the working group of the signatory committee of the 1998 Noumea Accord, which will decide the wording of the referendum question.