A veteran New Caledonian anti-independence politician Pierre Frogier says nobody will accept the outcome of the referendum on independence from France.
Citing deep divisions within the electorate, the former president and now member of the French Senate told the Nouvelles Caledoniennes newspaper that 30 years after the civil disturbances ended and following last year's referendum there were clearly two Caledonias.
The three provinces should set up ties with Paris as a New Caledonian government was no longer needed, Mr Frogier told Nouvelles Caledoniennes.
In response, president of the southern province Sonia Backes said she backed the idea of an internal federalism, adding that it was the only way that each other's way of life was respected.
She said the preceding generation of politicians had given away too much to the pro-independence side and therefore appreciated Mr Frogier's stance.
However, the Caledonia Together party said the Noumea Accord explicitly excluded the option of a partition, as for 30 years work has been done to foster a common destiny.
The pro-independence Caledonian Union said all links were within one country.
The referendum process set down in the 1998 Noumea Accord provides for two more such plebiscites within the next three years to complete the decolonisation.