19 Jan 2005

New Caledonia's Lafleur to join Noumea Accord review

3:35 pm on 19 January 2005

New Caledonia's former leader Jacques Lafleur is still expected to play a part in an upcoming review of the Noumea Accord on greater autonomy from France.

Mr Lafleur has just announced he's handed over the leadership of his party, the Rassemblement-UMP, to a former president, Pierre Frogier.

A journalist for the territorial weekly, Les Infos, Thierry Squillario, says Mr Lafleur will be part of the commitee convened by the overseas minister in Paris for later this week.

"There's going to be the Avenir Ensemble, that win the election in May 2004... [as well as] the independentists. So more than 20 people around the table for these discussions, with the minister of outremer."

The meeting is part of a regular follow-up process outlined in the Noumea deal in 1998.

Mr Lafleur's Rassemblement-UMP and the rival governing party Avenir Ensemble are both against independence.

Opposing them is the FLNKS movement, which wants New Caledonia to become independent from France.