19 Jun 2013

New Caledonia's Loueckhote to form new Kanak party

1:56 pm on 19 June 2013

A former long-standing New Caledonian member of the French Senate has announced the formation of a Kanak anti-independence party - a year before the next territorial election.

Simon Loueckhote chose to make the announcement the day France commemorated June the 18th 1940 when Charles de Gaulle made his rallying speech in Britain to free his country from German occupation.

Mr Loueckhote says the party is to be known as the Other Voice to dispel the possible perception that all Kanaks are for independence.

Five years ago, he founded another party, the Movement for Diversity.

He had been the territory's sole member of the French Senate for 19 years until 2011 when the local chapter of the French centre-right UMP no longer backed him and instead opted for another veteran politician, Pierre Frogier, to hold the Senate seat.