27 Oct 2020

Paris reinstates New Caledonia elders group

2:36 pm on 27 October 2020

The French overseas minister has reinstated a New Caledonian committee of elders to help guide public debate as the territory faces deepening divisions over the independence question.

Sebastien Lecornu

Sebastien Lecornu Photo: AFP or licensors

The 12-member committee, which was first appointed in 2017 at the behest of a former French prime minister Edouard Philippe, was tasked to watch over the language used during campaigns so as to avoid harm and tension.

Sebastien Lecornu, who is on an official visit following the recent independence referendum, stressed the need for vigilance to avoid a return to violence.

Pro-independence politicians said they would invoke their rights under the Noumea Accord and call for a third referendum in their decolonisation effort.

The anti-independence side, which includes the president Thierry Santa, is opposed to another such plebiscite, warning it will lead to violence.

Mr Lecornu has already called for the rhetoric to be softened, to avoid using the fear of violence as blackmail.

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