7 Jun 2002

New Caledonian election campaign amid TV strike

11:50 am on 7 June 2002

New Caledonian candidates in the French parliamentary elections say the strike at the public broadcaster, RFO, is unacceptable because viewers have no access to the main source of campaign information.

Didier Leroux has told the French news agency AFP that he is astounded at the intransigence of the RFO management which has left the territory without any coverage of the campaign for more than ten days.

The strike affects local news production but not feeds from France.

Jacques Lafleur, who is an incumbent MP, has described as an aberration that candidates in mainland France can have their views expressed on television in New Caledonia while local coverage is absent.

A key campaign issue has been the 1998 Noumea accord, with Mr Leroux warning that increased autonomy is turning New Caledonia into a small banana republic.

He says the more power is given to local politicians the bigger is the need for France to make sure that they act properly.

The Green Party has called for aspects of the accord to be ignored because it helps pillage the territory's mining resources.

Its candidate, Didier Baron, says too many presents are being given to the Canadian mining company, Inco, which plans to build a new nickel smelter.