14 Sep 2009

New Caledonian call for Christnacht role in institutional debate

1:37 pm on 14 September 2009

The president of New Caledonia's Congress, Harold Martin, has sought the assistance of a veteran French politician, Alain Christnacht, to explore possible support to alter the 1998 Noumea Acoord on greater autonomy.

In an interview with the Nouvelles Caledoniennes newspaper, Mr Martin described Mr Christnacht as the person who knows the territory, its problems and people best.

Mr Christnacht is a former overseas territories minister and wasinstrumental in the formulation of the 1988 Matignon Accords as well as the 1998 Noumea Accord which provides for a referendum on independence after 2014.

Mr Martin says he expects him to find an institutional model that would suit all signatories as part of a consensual approach that avoided a referendum vote.

This is in line with Mr Martin's call to stave off such a vote amid an expectation that a clear majority will vote against full independence from France.

His stance is in contrast to that of the Rassemblement-UMP which wants a vote as soon as possible to bury the independence issue.