19 Oct 2007

New Caledonia senator queries French grasp of local situation

2:49 pm on 19 October 2007

New Caledonia's member of the French senate has called into question the French government's understanding of the territory's situation.

Simon Loueckhote, who is a member of France's ruling UMP Party, is the latest politician to express his disquiet after last week's official visit to the territory by the new overseas territories minister, Christian Estrosi.

Mr Loueckhote says the last 30 years' experience has compelled everybody to seek dialogue and consensus.

The minister's visit coincided with industrial action, while a disagreement over how to deal with the protests resulted in the French high commissioner in Noumea resigning from his post.

New Caledonia's pro-independence FLNKS took issue with Mr Estrosi's call for a greater role for France in the territory as the 1998 Noumea Accord provides for the gradual transfer of powers from Paris to New Caledonia.