21 May 2020

New Caledonia party again targets French HC

1:07 pm on 21 May 2020

New Caledonia's largest pro-independence party, the Caledonian Union, has once more asked the French High Commissioner to leave the territory over the management of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Caledonian Union

Caledonian Union Photo: supplied FB

Laurent Prevost was again accused of failing to respect the Noumea Accord, which had transferred health policy-making from France to New Caledonia.

Mr Prevost said while the French state respected New Caledonia in health matters, it ensured individual rights in order to take measures protecting all Caledonians.

He said the party president Daniel Goa was poorly informed and that no breach occurred.

He claimed Mr Goa's goals were political and couldn't justify his excesses and untruths.

However, a meeting of the party leadership yesterday rejected the High Commissioner's reply, describing his account as lies.

The Caledonian Union said 62 French military personnel arrived last weekend, bypassing immigration, customs and health checks.

Mr Prevost had said the personnel flown in were in quarantine at the barracks.

French air base in New Caledonia

French air base in New Caledonia Photo: RNZ Pacific / Walter Zweifel

The Caledonian Union also pointed out that earlier this month a crew member of a French military plane tested positive for Covid-19 in French Polynesia just days after the aircraft stopped over in New Caledonia.

However, Mr Prevost said the crew had been kept in isolation at the airbase outside Noumea.

The Caledonian Union again said it was considering withdrawing its ministers from the collegial government whose anti-independence members mostly concur with the French government.

The Future with Confidence alliance, which includes President Thierry Santa, dismissed Mr Goa's concerns this week, describing them as politicking and a sign of deep dishonesty.

The Caledonian Union also reiterated its call to defer the referendum on independence from France from 5 September to 25 October.

The party favoured a deferral as not to mix up the campaign for local elections in June with the debate about the referendum.

A leading anti-independence politician, Sonia Backes said she was firmly opposed to a delay.

Ms Backes, who is the president of the Southern Province, said a date had been agreed and she wanted it to be kept, accusing the rival side of posturing to pressure the French state.

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  • French Covid-19 decree challenged by New Caledonia leaders
  • New Caledonia extends quarantine for returnees to three weeks