5 Apr 2004

New Caledonia's Jacques Lafleur reverses retirement decision for May election

3:11 pm on 5 April 2004

The leader of New Caledonia's RPCR party, Jacques Lafleur, has confirmed that he will lead his party in next month's election.

He told this to a local newspaper and the broadcaster RFO just 16 months after announcing his retirement from politics following a career spanning 25 years.

Mr Lafleur, who is 72, is the president of the southern province and a member of the French national assembly.

A historian in New Caledonia, Louis-Jose Barbancon, says his move follows the recent departure of former political allies who have joined the anti-independence Alliance Party.

"It's a challenge for him that Harold Martin and Philippe Gomez were in the RPCR, go out two weeks ago to make a list against him. So he has a challenge to beat them."

Louis-Jose Barbancon