16 Dec 2002

France reaffirms commitment to Noumea accord

3:18 pm on 16 December 2002

The French government has re-affirmed that there is no going back on any of the provisions of the 1998 Noumea accord on New Caledonia's greater autonomy.

The minister in charge of overseas territories, Brigitte Girardin, has told the congress in Noumea that once the French state has passed on powers to the New Caledonian authorities it can no longer claim them.

She says the French state will be remain the arbiter to ensure the accord is followed which will lead to a vote on full independence.

"New Caledonia's future will play out - in the years to come - in the midst of the republic and of France, at least until the citizens of New Caledonia are called to express themselves on this matter and to accept, or not, a different development."

Mrs Girardin has called on Congress members to ensure that a more peaceful climate prevails and more attentive discussions are held to run the government.