12 Jun 2012

Frogier accepts blame for New Caledonia poll setback

6:37 pm on 12 June 2012

The leader of New Caledonia's Rassemblement-UMP, Pierre Frogier, says he takes full responsibility for last weekend's election setback which will see his party lose at least one of the territory's two seats in the French National Assembly.

Eric Gay failed to qualify for this weekend's run-off election in the rural seat, which means that for the first time in more than a quarter of a century another party will get at least one of the Paris seats.

The pro-independence candidate Jean-Pierre Djaiwe came first ahead of the rival anti-independence Caledonia Together Party's Philippe Gomes.

In the mainly urban seat, the Rassemblement's Gael Yanno came first but observers say the Caledonia Together's Sonia Lagarde has a good chance of winning it.

Mr Frogier, who was made the territory's member of the French senate last year, says his two candidates suffered for standing up for his policies.

Last year, he had helped bring down the Gomes-led government after adopting a policy of using both the French and Kanak flags while Mr Gomes insisted that a new flag has to be chosen to express New Caledonia's identity.