• France's news in English

French 'loyalist' joins UN New Caledonia talks

AFP · 28 Jun 2014, 12:44

Published: 28 Jun 2014 12:44 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Though it is technically part of France, the nickel-rich Pacific island chain formulates its own tax, labour laws and trade policy.

A 1998 agreement clinched after unrest between pro- and anti-independence activists increased autonomy for the archipelago and set a referendum to take place between this year and 2018.

French "loyalists" hold a majority in congress -- 29 of 54 seats -- but separatists gained two seats in the last election in May.

Congress president Gael Yanno faced off at the UN meeting against two representatives of the separatist movement, Roch Wamytan and Michael Forrest, of the Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front.

Yanno pledged his first appearance at the UN committee wouldn't be his last.

"The non-separatists have decided to make their voices heard... and we will ask each year to participate in your work," he said.

He proposed a dialogue with the separatists over the future of the territory, to build on the 1998 agreement.

But, Yanno insisted, if a referendum were held tomorrow, "a very large majority of Caledonian citizens would refuse independence."

"In the 21st century, it is completely possible to be proud to be Caledonian and proud to be French," he said.

New Caledonia was listed in 1986 by the United Nations as a country to be decolonized.

Wamytan criticized the May vote, saying it was "unthinkable and unacceptable" for the electoral system to be applied during any future referendum. The separatists argue the definition of eligible voters was too restrictive.

Wamytan said the separatists do not want yet another agreement like the one negotiated in 1998 and a previous one a decade earlier that transfer state powers to local officials.

The separatists want to make New Caledonia a sovereign nation, which could negotiate partnerships with France and other countries in the region.

Beatrice Le Fraper du Hellen, senior advisor to the French mission at the UN, said France is tasked as an "administrative power" in New Caledonia with ensuring "the smooth rollout" of the 1998 agreement.

But it "can't substitute for a dialogue between the two sides," she added.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

UK border must move back, says 'next French president'
Photo: AFP

If favourite Alain Juppé is elected, Britain and France are in for some difficult negotiations.

Homeless man does a runner from France's top restaurants
Photo: Prayitno/Flickr

"A man's gotta eat," he told police, after racking up gigantic bills in some of France's plushest restaurants.

Underwater museum hopes to make a splash in Marseille
A similar underwater museum piece by Jason deCaires Taylor. Photo: julie rohloff/Flickr

Don't forget your scuba gear...

Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Photo: Jacme/Flickr

Move over Paris...

And France's top chef of the year is... 'Monsieur Idiot'
Alexandre Couillon might have an unfortunate name, but he can sure cook!. Photo: AFP

Look beyond the name. He's the man who turned his family's humble "moules frites" joint into one of France's best seafood restaurants.

Could France do more to ease the worries of 'Brexpats'?
Photo: AFP

Paris is rolling out the red tape for British firms, so why not British citizens in France?

Brexit: Brits in France could face 'cataclysmic' impact
Photo: AFP

Can't France make it easier for Britons to get French nationality?

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
Want to drive a scooter around Paris? Here's what you need to know
jobs available