12 Mar 2004

New Caledonia's Alliance Party accuses RPCR of squandering wealth

4:17 pm on 12 March 2004

The head of New Caledonia's Alliance Party, Didier Leroux, has called on the ruling RPCR party to stop squandering the territory's wealth by selling off public land and mines.

Mr Leroux, who is campaigning for the May election, says assets are being sold far too cheaply in deals that he claims foster corrupt practices.

"This is an organised pillage of our common wealth and it has taken proportions never seen before. It is urgent to react because otherwise bribery and corruption is progressing at an infernal speed here, and it is really dangerous."

Meanwhile, the RPCR leader, Jacques Lafleur, has told the local daily newspaper that some people get worked up weeks out from the election.

Mr Lafleur says there are some people who are prepared to compromise all that exists, everything that has made New Caledonia again a prosperous, respected and admired country.

He was speaking before the arrival of the French minister in charge of overseas territories, Brigitte Girardin, who is on a three-day visit - her fifth to New Caledonia since assuming her role.