7 Apr 2015

Gomes eyes New Caledonia's economic sovereignty

4:28 am on 7 April 2015

A leading New Caledonian anti-independence politician, Philippe Gomes, says the territory has to attain economic sovereignty by winning control over its natural resources.

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Eramet of France is main shareholder in SLN Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

Mr Gomes, who is a member of the French National Assembly, made the comment to the news agency AFP after his Caledonia Together Party won the presidency last week thanks to the support of three pro-independence ministers.

New Caledonia has about a quarter of the world's nickel reserves and Mr Gomes says it is imperative for the territory to both win control over the resource and to create a fund to the benefit of future generations.

His stance echoes that of the pro-independence camp which has been seeking majority control of the territory's historically dominant SLN nickel company.

Currently, New Caledonia's stake is 34 percent in SLN, which is part of the French Eramet concern.

Mr Gomes has reiterated that his party won the presidency without striking any deals with the rival pro-independence side.

Rifts within the majority loyalist camp had prevented it to agree on a president for more than three months until the pro-independence side opted to support Philippe Germain for the top job.

Philippe Gomes

Philippe Gomes Photo: AFP