28 Feb 2011

French minister says no need for fresh polls in New Caledonia

1:22 pm on 28 February 2011

The French overseas territories minister, Marie-Luce Penchard, says there is no need for fresh general elections in New Caledonia despite the fall of the government led by Philippe Gomes.

The two-year-old collegial administration collapsed ten days ago after the three pro-independence ministers resigned amid a prolonged dispute over the choice of New Caledonia's flag.

Mrs Penchard says for the time being, the territory's Congress and institutions work while there is nowhere near the political instability seen in French Polynesia.

This comes as Mr Gomes has vowed that his side will immediately resign when the Congress chooses a new collegial 11-member government on Thursday.

He says the manouvering over the flag issue by the pro-independence side and the anti-independence Rassemblement-UMP , was only a ploy to oust him from power.

Mr Gomes says as this amounts to a decision made behind the voters' back, he wants to block the institutions and force Paris to call fresh general elections three years early.