23 Jun 2008

New Caledonia's Future Together chooses Leroux as president

1:34 pm on 23 June 2008

New Caledonia's dominant political party of recent years, The Future Together, has elected a new president amid a deepening rift in its ranks.

A weekend Congress chose Didier Leroux as its leader while a rival group led by the president of the Southern province, Philippe Gomes, staged a rival gathering.

Mr Gomes likened the congress decision to a putsch.

Mr Leroux's group also chose candidates to contest next year's territorial elections.

He says he will work not towards defeating the pro-independence politicians but to persuading them to want to stay with France.

In 2004, the Future Together emerged as the winner of the elections, ending a quarter of a century of dominance of the anti-independence leader Jacques Lafleur.