2 Jan 2015

New Caledonia fails to elect president

12:18 pm on 2 January 2015

New Caledonia's collegial government has failed to elect a new president to replace Cynthia Ligeard whose administration collapsed two weeks ago.

The Congress decided to reconfirm the same ministers but once the re-elected 11-member executive met to elect a president, no candidate won a majority.

The rift within the dominant anti-independence majority, which prompted the goverment's fall, meant that neither Mrs Ligeard of the Front for Unity nor Philippe Germain of the Caledonia Together Party could get six backers.

The five pro-independence ministers abstained, which means a further presidential election is now due on Tuesday.

It is uncertain if the next round will yield a winner as it is unclear how long the territory can operate without a president because without one, the government remains in a caretaker capacity only.

The Caledonia Together party, the biggest force in the ruling coalition, brought down the government after accusing the coalition partners of going against the power-sharing deal set up after the May election.

It said as a result, it wanted to get the presidency, which had been held by the Front for Unity.

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Photo: RNZ

Before the voting in of the new government, the Caledonia Together's leader Philippe Gomes said an impasse could trigger fresh general elections.

The Ligeard-led government fell just six months into its five-year term.