23 May 2003

FLNKS seeks French assurance over Noumea Accord commitment

3:47 pm on 23 May 2003

New Caledonia's pro-independence FLNKS movement says it wants the French President to give assurances about France's commitment to implement key provisions of the Noumea accord on greater autonomy.

Jacques Chirac is due in Noumea in two months and an FLNKS spokesman, Victor Tutugoro, says he wants to hear the president confirm that New Caledonia's electorate body will be frozen as agreed in 1998.

The accord provided for France to change the constitution in line with a promise that the make-up of the electoral body in New Caledonia would be frozen.

This was to allay fears by indigenous Kanaks that immigration would make them a minority by the time the territory votes on full independence from France.

The former French government led by Lionel Jospin had sought to confirm the provisions but in the year 2000 President Chirac deferred indefinitely a meeting of the body empowered to change the constitution.

Mr Tutugoro told a news conference that he hopes President Chirac can reassure the FLNKS on the issue.