16 Jun 2017

Former president Sarkozy enters New Caledonia campaign

5:48 pm on 16 June 2017
Former French President and candidate for the right-wing Les Republicains  party primaries ahead of the 2017 presidential election Nicolas Sarkozy delivers a speech during a campaign rally in Chaumont in the Haute-Marne region on October 14, 2016.

Nicolas Sarkozy has endorsed anti-independence New Caledonia candidate Philippe Gomes in this weekend's national assembly elections. Photo: AFP

France's former president Nicolas Sarkozy has entered New Caledonia's election campaign, endorsing an anti-independence candidate Philippe Gomes in this weekend's election of a new French National Assembly.

Mr Sarkozy, whose bid to regain the presidency failed in the primaries, has issued a letter of support for Mr Gomes as he is facing a pro-independence candidate Louis Mapou.

Mr Sarkozy says the election of a pro-independence parliamentarian would send a signal to Paris which would contradict what the majority of New Caledonians wants.

He is calling on his fellow citizens to vote for Mr Gomes without hesitation and for loyalists to unite as next year's independence referendum nears.

This comes as four New Caledonian anti-independence parties, including Mr Sarkozy's Republicans, agreed to a joint declaration of unity aimed to help Mr Gomes retain his seat.

The declaration followed a push by a leading dissident among the Republicans Harold Martin who called for voters to choose Mr Mapou.