26 Oct 2023

French minister re-schedules Nouméa visit for talks to end of November

5:00 pm on 26 October 2023
French, right, and Kanak flags.

French home affairs and overseas minister Gérald Darmanin has announced new dates for his visit to New Caledonia. Photo: AFP/Clotilde Richalet

French home affairs and overseas minister Gérald Darmanin has announced new dates for his visit to New Caledonia, where he is planning to pursue crucial talks with political parties about the French Pacific entity's future political status.

The new dates are November 24 and 25 and Darmanin will also visit New Caledonia with French finance minister Bruno Le Maire.

Darmanin's visit was initially scheduled to take place sometime before the end of October, in the footsteps of an earlier session with New Caledonia's political pro-independence and pro-France parties.

During the previous session in Paris, Darmanin submitted a document which, he said, was open to alterations by all participants.

The document was said to be a working document ahead of a French Constitutional amendment which French President Macron wants to put to the vote of the French Congress early 2024.

Some of the most contentious issues were touching on modifying New Caledonia's electoral roll (which has been left unmodified and restricted to residents born there or residing not later than 1998 since the last Nouméa Accord signed in 1998).

Another controversial topic was perspectives of new referendums which would not be subject to a particular time frame, as New Caledonia has just held three self-determination consultations over the past five years, as prescribed by the Nouméa Accord.

PARIS, FRANCE - AUGUST 30: French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin on August 30, 2023 in Paris, France. In a recent televised interview, France's education minister Gabriel Attal announced that France is to ban Islamic garments known as abayas in schools from September. (Photo by Christian Liewig - Corbis/Getty Images) (

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin on 30 August 2023 in Paris, France. Photo: Christian Liewig - Corbis

The notion of a New Caledonian citizenship which could be, under proposed Constitutional amendments, made compatible with the French citizenship, was aslo another touchy issue.

After the September Paris talks, some components of the pro-independence umbrella FLNKS (such as the PALIKA - Kanak Liberation Party-) indicated they wished to come back to the table with Darmanin in Nouméa to pursue talks.

But other components of the FLNKS, like the more radical Union Calédonienne (UC), said Darmanin's working document was unacceptable and indicated they would not join any talks until they hold their annual congress from November 9 to 12.

Darmanin's new schedule for his visit would apparently allow the UC meeting to take place before he arrives.

The addition of finance minister Le Maire to the ministerial delegation comes in response to recent alarming reports on New Caledonia's nickel industry and reports that Swiss-based mining company Glencore, the major financier of one of New Caledonia's three mining companies, Koniambo, in the Northern province, threatened to withdraw funding by the end of February 2024 unless a "new financial solution" is found.

This comes after the French government's finance ministry released early August an alarming report of New Caledonia's nickel industry, stressing the need for a major reform.

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