8 Dec 2008

New Caledonia's pro and anti-independence groups meet over accord process

11:26 am on 8 December 2008

The signatories of New Caledonia's 1998 Noumea accord on greater autonomy will meet in Paris today under the chairmanship of the French prime minister, Francois Fillon.

The meeting, which will be the last before next April's provincial elections in New Caledonia, brings together the pro- and anti-independence sides to take stock of the process leading to a vote on self-determination before 2018.

Walter Zweifel reports

"There has been a slight delay in the phased and irreversible transfers of power from Paris to New Caledonia but France is set to cede the running of secondary school education next year."

On the agenda will be, among others, the question of how to reserve jobs for locals, New Caledonia's share in the French mining giant Eramet and whether the euro should be introduced.

The meeting comes amid unpecedented splits within the anti-independence camp which will be represented by the UMP/Rassemblement leader, Pierre Frogier, The Future Toghether's Harold Martin and Philippe Gomes of the recently formed Caledonia Together Party.

The delegations are scheduled to meet President Nicolas Sarkozy tomorrow.