3 Oct 2018

Valls optimistic about New Caledonia

3:41 pm on 3 October 2018

France's former prime minister Manuel Valls has expressed optimism about the future of New Caledonia as it nears a referendum on independence.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

Manuel Valls Photo: SUPPLIED/Pool picture

Mr Valls wrote a letter to all the members of the French parliamentary mission to New Caledonia which he led but quit to run for mayor of the Spanish city of Barcelona, where he was born.

He said he loves the magnificent territory which he says leaves nobody untouched.

Mr Valls also hailed New Caledonia's political leaders who have to continue to keep alive the miracle of the 1988 Matignon Accords.

The agreement between the pro- and anti-independence sides ended years of troubles and ushered in a three-decade phase to defer New Caledonia's decolonisation.

When his team visited New Caledonia in February, Mr Valls said he was in favour of the territory remaining French.

The vote will be on 4 November, with polls predicting that a majority will vote against independence.

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