21 Nov 2002

New Caledonia Congress to nominate ministers for new government

11:47 am on 21 November 2002

New Caledonia's Congress is scheduled to decide today how big a coalition government it wants to form for next weeks election of a new executive.

It can nominate between five and eleven ministers to replace the 11-strong collegial government which had to be dissolved last week when the only minister from the pro-independence Caledonian Union, Gerald Cortot, resigned.

Under the terms of the 1998 Noumea Accord, the executive is elected by the Congress in proportion to the strngth of the political parties.

Mr Cortot resigned after accusing the anti-independence RPCR Party of being dictatorial while the Noumea Accord stipulates that the admnistration is to be run in a collegial way.

Speaking during a visit to Paris, the territorial president, Pierre Frogier, rejected the criticism, saying he has a mandate with his party's majority support.

He has described the Caledonian Union's mave to prompt the government's collapse as childish and a non-event that has discredited New Caledonia and only cost it time.