11 Jul 2007

French government says rival New Caledonian leaders set to reconcile

1:45 pm on 11 July 2007

The French government says two rival New Caledonian politicians opposed to independence are prepared to overcome their differences as France seeks to open a new era for France and its territory in Melanesia.

The two, Pierre Frogier of the Rassemblement-UMP and Harold Martin of the Future Together Party, met in Paris under the auspices of the new secretary of state for overseas territories, Christian Estrosi.

The French statement follows last month's re-election of Mr Frogier as one of New Caledonia's two members of the French assembly.

This comes as Mr Frogier refuses to accept key tenets of the 1998 Noumea accord on greater autonomy signed by the French state, the pro-independence FLNKS movement and the anti-independence RPCR Party which is the precursor to Mr Frogier's current party.

Mr Frogier is opposed to the constitutional amendment restricting French immigrants' voting rights.

Mr Martin had in the past taken issue with Mr Frogier's stance against the Noumea accord which has prompted the FLNKS to call for talks to gauge the French commitment to the accord.