2 Nov 2020

Lecornu doubts New Caledonia's future as democracy

2:59 pm on 2 November 2020

The French overseas minister Sebastien Lecornu has wrapped up his New Caledonia visit with a warning that relations could be downgraded if the territory chooses independence and ceases to be a democracy.

French overseas minister Sebastien Lecornu in New Caledonia

French overseas minister Sebastien Lecornu in New Caledonia Photo: supplied

In a television interview, Lecornu said it would have to be seen if Kanaky New Caledonia would maintain a separation of power and retain press freedom.

He made the comment despite the independence camp proposing a new constitution of a multi-cultural, democratic and secular state which would renew ties with France.

Lecornu added that France would never entertain privileged ties with a country which fails to respect human rights.

The minister spent three weeks in New Caledonia following last month's independence referendum, in which 53 percent voted to stay with France.

He extended his official visit by two days to convene a retreat with the rival camps.

The anti-independence side wants to avert a third referendum in two years, suggesting it could lead to bloodshed.

The pro-independence camp has said it will invoke its rights anchored in the Noumea Accord and call for such a plebiscite.

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