New Caledonia's anti-independence parties have retained a majority in the Congress in yesterday's crucial election.
The new Congress will have to organise a referendum on self-determination within its five-year term or France will step in to arrange such a vote in line with the 1998 Noumea Accord.
Walter Zweifel reports.
"Power within the anti-independence side has shifted to the Caledonia Together Party, which is now the main force in the Noumea area.
As it has no majority on its own, the party of Philippe Gomes needs to work with his rival loyalists to counter the pro-independence side, which yesterday won 25 of the 54 seats in Congress.
Mr Gomes says New Caledonians won't forgive them if they fail to have the wisdom to find common ground in this decisive point of the country's history.
In the two mainly Kanak provinces, almost all seats have been won by pro-independence parties.
A new government, in proportion to the various parties' strength in Congress, is expected to be formed before the end of the month."