18 May 2009

New Caledonia anti-independence camp favours Gomes as territory's next president

3:35 pm on 18 May 2009

New Caledonia's anti-independence parties have heeded calls for unity made by the outgoing president Harold Martin following their splits reflected in the provincial elections.

The leader of the Caledonia Together Party, Philippe Gomes, says the factions were condemned to getting along with each other.

Under the arrangement reached in post-election talks, Mr Gomes is set to succeed Mr Martin as the territory's president by mid-June.

Mr Martin is to be put in charge of the Congress.

Last Friday, the three provinces elected their respective presidents for five-year terms, with the northern province reconfirming Paul Neaoutyine and the Loyalty islands province again choosing Neko Hnepeune.

In the southern province, which is the biggest and most prosperous, the Rassemblement/UMP leader, Pierre Frogier, has been elected president.

He says the agreement that has been reached is to ensure the stability of the institution.

This comes amid concern that New Caledonia could experience the instability seen in French Polynesian, where 10 governments have been in power in the past five years.