French minister Lecornu holds future talks in New Caledonia retreat

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Sebastien Lecornu
French overseas minister Sebastien Lecornu in New Caledonia ... no status quo. Image: RNZ

French Overseas Minister Sebastien Lecornu has held talks with 10 New Caledonian politicians at a retreat near Noumea to promote dialogue between rival camps, saying a new accord will emerge.

The minister, who delayed yesterday’s planned departure for Paris by at least two days, convened five anti-independence and five pro-independence leaders on Lepredour island, including three provincial presidents and three of the territory’s members of the French legislature.

There has been no official statement about the discussions but in an interview with the Les Nouvelles Caledoniennes, Lecornu said some sort of new accord would emerge as New Caledonians want answers to key questions.

He said they wanted to know what it was to be French in 2020 and what it was to be independent in 2020.

Lecornu said there would not be a status quo.

He said should New Caledonia opt for independence, there would be a transition agreement or otherwise there will be a new accord with France.

In the interview, the minister made no reference to a third referendum in 2022, which the anti-independence camp wants to avoid and the pro-independence camp has said it will insist on.

The minister earlier took part in a ceremony in central Noumea where the central park was renamed Peace Square.

It was earlier known as Olry Square, named after the 19th century French governor who successfully put down a rebellion by the indigenous Kanaks.

On the square, a statue of Jean-Marie Tjibaou and Jacques Lafleur will be erected in honour of their efforts to halt the intercommunal violence of the 1980s.

This article is republished by the Pacific Media Centre under a partnership agreement with RNZ.

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