24 Mar 2014

Close Noumea race in New Caledonia municipal election

8:11 am on 24 March 2014

Three candidates are through to the second round of the municipal election in New Caledonia's capital.

In 25 of the territory's 33 municipalites, a second round of voting will be held next weekend to decide who will be the mayor.

Walter Zweifel reports.

In Noumea, the strong rivalries within the dominant anti-independence camp has seen Sonia Lagarde of the Caledonia Together Party winning just over 36 percent of the votes while Gael Yanno secured under 35 percent.

Ms Lagarde is already one of the territory's members of the French National Assembly, succeeding in the Paris post Mr Yanno, who has the support of the French UMP led by Jean-Francois Cope.

The candidate of the Rassemblement-UMP, Jean-Claude Briault, who was a distant third, is yet to say whether he will choose to join the run-off.

While some prominent mayors, such as Harold Martin and Hilarion Vendegou, will have to contest the run-off, the leading pro-independence politicians Paul Neaoutyine and Gilbert Tyuienon, have retained their posts.

The vote has been seen as a test run for the territorial election in May.