19 May 2017

Little enthusiasm in New Caledonia for Annick Girardin

3:57 pm on 19 May 2017

There has been little enthusiasm among New Caledonia's political leaders for this week's appointment of Annick Girardin as the new French overseas minister.

With the election of a new French National Assembly due next month, the Caledonia Together party leader Philippe Gomes said it was now time to wait and see what government will emerge.

He was commenting to the public broadcaster as the territory was awaiting confirmation of details of the process to exit the 1998 Noumea Accord and hold an independence referendum by next year.

A pro-independence leader Roch Wamytan questioned whether a woman originally from the French mainland was capable of overseeing the decolonisation process.

Newly appointed French Overseas Minister Annick Girardin leaves the Elysee presidential palace in Paris on May 18, 2017, after the first weekly cabinet meeting of the new government.

Newly appointed French Overseas Minister Annick Girardin leaves the Elysee presidential palace in Paris on May 18, 2017, after the first weekly cabinet meeting of the new government. Photo: CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT / AFP

Another pro-independence politician Charles Washetine said time was tight for the plebiscite and the new French government should make the New Caledonia issue a priority.

Pierre Frogier, who is a veteran politician now serving as a French Senator, said the new government was a campaign team hoping to secure Emmanuel Macron an Assembly majority.

He said this made the appointment of Ms Girardin, who represents the west Atlantic islands of St Pierre and Miquelon, a choice not to be taken seriously.

Mr Frogier noted that her predecessors were from La Reunion and from Guadeloupe.