5 Jun 2020

New Caledonia party on edge over France's pandemic management

10:21 am on 5 June 2020

New Caledonia's largest pro-independence party has again asked the French High Commissioner and the local commander of the French military to leave the territory.

It's the third time in three weeks that the Caledonian Union has made the call, critical of Paris' handling of the covid-19 pandemic in the French territory.

Caledonian Union

Caledonian Union Photo: supplied FB

The party strongly disagrees with the management of the Covid-19 outbreak and restated that the two top French representatives failed to respect the Noumea Accord, which had transferred health policy-making from France to New Caledonia.

Caledonian Union leaders said it was time to take action to be respected, but declined to give details.

It said collegiality had been trampled on and been replaced by bilateral talks between the French state and the anti-independence side about the post-referendum period.

The party said every week the French military brought in units from France, bypassing the local health department and its confinement protocol.

This was repeatedly denied by the High Commissioner who last month restated that the French state respected New Caledonia in health matters, while it ensured individual rights in order to take measures to protect all New Caledonians.

Last weekend, an French officer, who was part of a squad flown in from France in mid-May, tested positive to the coronavirus and was transferred to the isolation unit at the hospital.

New Caledonia's government said the squad had tested negative before leaving France and had been held in isolation at the barracks.

It said the Covid-positive person would remain in hospital until there were two negative tests within a 48-hour period.

All arrivals in New Caledonia have to isolate for two weeks in designated accommodation and then self-isolate for another week, but the French military runs its own regime.

The three-week confinement policy was introduced after demands by the pro-independence Kanaks and is the strictest in any French-run territory.

France has recorded more than 29,000 Covid-19 fatalities and New Caledonia none among its twenty confirmed cases to date.

The Caledonian Union also restated its opposition to plans to allow two nickel companies to export ore, saying the resource should be processed in New Caledonia.

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