28 Jun 2004

French minister hopes for consensus to end New Caledonia impasse

3:29 pm on 28 June 2004

The French minister in charge of overseas territories, Brigitte Girardin, says she hopes a consensus will emerge among New Caledonia's 11 ministers to avert fresh provincial elections.

The 11-member government in Noumea has until Wednesday to elect a president after two previous attempts failed.

In early June, the anti-independence Rassemblement brought down the entire collegial government hours after a president was elected and last week's second attempt ended in a stalemate when no candidate won a majority.

Mrs Girardin told the French radio station RFO that she hopes for a solution.

"For the time being I think everyone is making efforts to try to find a consensual solution. A consensus is something that is motivating the elected members a lot and which is a daily and permanent battle."