20 May 2008

New Caledonia's biggest political party faces split

9:40 am on 20 May 2008

New Caledonia's biggest political party, the anti-independence Future

Together, is expected to split after differences were accentuated at a weekend meeting.

The two camps are seen to be mainly divided between Didier Leroux, a

Congress member and former minister, and the president of the southern province, Philippe Gomes.

They each favour a different head of government, with Mr Leroux backing the incumbent Harold Martin, and Mr Gomes preferring Marie-Noelle Themereau, who resigned as the first Future Together's first head of governmenrt last year.

Last weekend's meeting saw harsh exchanges over who should top the

electoral list when New Caledonia chooses a new congress for a five-year term next year.

The Future Together emerged as force ahead of the 2004 elections,

sidelining the until then dominant anti-independence RPCR Party.

In recent elections to fill positions in the French legislature, the

Future Together candidates missed out to politicians of the RPCR

successor movement.