18 Apr 2011

France to change New Caledonia law to add political stability

6:25 am on 18 April 2011

The French overseas territories minister, Marie-Luce Penchard, says within weeks Paris will change the basic law applying to New Caledonia to end serial ministerial resignations.

Mrs Penchard was speaking in Noumea after three days of talks with local leaders over an unprecedented political crisis which has seen four collegial governments collapse in the past two months.

She says the new law is to limit the frequency of possible resignations.

Currently, a single minister's resignation triggers the election of a new collegial government within two weeks - a provision which the Caledonia Together Party has used three times in its bid to have fresh general elections.

Mrs Penchard however has ruled out early elections.

The political crisis stems from a dispute over which flag the territory should use to express its identity as it is being decolonised.