French envoys to visit New Caledonia in September with unknown plan

New Caledonian Congress elections 300822
The public gallery for the New Caledonian Congress elections in Noumea today. Image: Sheïma Riahi/NCla1ère

RNZ Pacific

The newly re-elected President of the New Caledonian Congress, Roch Wamytan, says a visit by French representatives will take place on September 12.

The new Minister for France’s Overseas Territories, Jean-Francois Carenco, will meet New Caledonia’s government representatives then for the first time.

In an interview with La Première television Wamytan said he still did not know what would be discussed during the visit.

“We are waiting to to be told because we had talked over the phone but without any additional information. He will come on September 12,” Wamytan said.

“However, I, who is a key signatory and President of the Congress, have no official information on the reason for his arrival in New Caledonia.”

A spokesperson for the pro-independence Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS), Charles Wea, said they would not be speaking with the delegation as it would only meet members of the government.

“The FLNKS no but institutions yes, such as the Congress or the government, they are talking institutionally but there is still no contact between the FLNKS and the French government on the institutional question.

‘Wait and hear’
“Now is the time to wait and hear what the French government is about to propose on the future of New Caledonia.”

Pro-independence indigenous Kanaks have not engaged with France since they boycotted the third and final independence referendum under the Noumea Accord last December resulting in an overwhelming majority voting in favour to remain with France.

Pro-independence Caledonian Union's Roch Wamytan
Pro-independence Caledonian Union’s Roch Wamytan … re-elected today as Congress President with 29 votes. Image: RNZ/AFP

They were unhappy with France for ignoring their pleas to postpone polling because of the effects of the covid pandemic.

According to Wea, the FLNKS will hold a congress after Carenco’s visit followed by another one in January to work out what strategy to propose to France in a bilateral talk.

“It is a congress that will work out the institutional question concerning the future of New Caledonia and questions on how the FLNKS fits into all that. It is a general meeting about everything.

“They will be assembling on September 17.”

The pro-independence FLNKS movement, which has the Caledonian Union as a key component, refuses to recognise the result of the third and final referendum as a legitimate outcome of the decolonisation process.

Palika Party member and FLNKS International Relations official, Charles Wea.
Palika Party member and FLNKS International Relations official Charles Wea … indigenous Kanak strategy meeting planned for September 17. Image: RNZ

Decolonisation still key
Speaking at a recent Caledonian Union congress meeting, Daniel Goa, reaffirmed they will only meet with France bilaterally and that decolonisation was still very much on their agenda.

“For the bilateral, the talks will include two subjects. One on the irreversible constitutions and one of liberation.

“All talks with an electoral body as big as France would show that it wants to continue its colonial power over the people. The decolonisation process will end when the independence of New Caledonia Kanaky occurs.”

Despite the Kanak boycott of the final independence referendum, Paris insists the vote was carried out legally and stands by its outcome.

It now plans to submit a new statute for New Caledonia to vote on in June.

Wamytan’s fourth term
Meanwhile, Roch Wamytan was today re-elected Congress President for his fourth successive term.

He won with 29 votes and told La Première it was thanks to the Wallisian and Futunan party Pacific Awakening’s support.

“First of all, I would like to thank the party Pacific Awakening who have supported us for the fourth time. It is a mark of confidence in the process of reform in which we have placed ourselves, with the president of the government, and for years to come,” Wamytan said.

The three Congress members from the Pacific Awakening party formally joined the pro-independence Caledonian Union members to form a new group in the legislature. This was registered on Sunday.

The Pacific Awakening party, which holds the balance of power since the 2019 election, had already said it would vote for Wamytan for the sake of stability to progress urgently needed reforms.

The party, which emerged from civil society, has over the years given support to both main political camps to sustain a balance.

The opposition anti-independence representative Gil Brial gained 25 votes.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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