18 Jun 2003

French minister regrets separatists' boycott of Noumea accord review

6:06 am on 18 June 2003

The French minister in charge of overseas territories, Brigitte Girardin, says she regrets the lack of unity in New Caledonia's pro-independence camp as members of a key party boycotted yesterday's review of the Noumea accord.

While a meeting on the 1998 accord on greater autonomy was held in Kone, in the mainly Kanak northern province, members of the Caledonian Union held a news conference nearby, highlighting the reason for their boycott.

The Caledonian Union is the main group in the FLNKS movement which signed the accord along with the anti-independence RPCR Party and the French state.

It says the accord has been derailed by the RPCR and has accused the French state of failing to guarantee the legality of the accord.

France has not changed the constitution as Kanaks were promised five years ago.

They have been seeking a freeze of the electorate to prevent immigrants from France becoming a majority ahead of key votes on New Caledonia's status.