Vanuatu, MSG chief reaffirms support for FLNKS, blames France over unrest

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French military reinforcements arrive at Nouméa
French military reinforcements arrive at Nouméa's Tontouta International Airport in the wake of rioting this week. Image: APR

Asia Pacific Report

Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai — who is also Chairman of the Melanesian Spearhead Group — has reaffirmed MSG’s support of the pro-independence umbrella group Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS) stance opposing the French government’s constitutional bill “unfreezing” the New Caledonia Electoral Roll.

It is also opposed to the proposed changes to the citizens’ electorate and the changes to the distribution of seats in Congress, reports the Vanuatu Daily Post.

In a statement yesterday, he expressed “sadness” over the “unfortunate happenings that have befallen New Caledonia over the last few days”, referring to the riots sparked by protests over the French law changes.

Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai
Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai . . . support for the FLNKS independence movement. Image: Loop Vanuatu

Salwai expressed support for the FLNKS call for calm, and shared the FLNKS’s condemnation of the violence.

The MSG Chair said in the statement that the indiscriminate destruction of property would affect New Caledonia’s economy in a “very big way” and that would have a “debilitating cascading effect on the welfare and lives of all New Caledonians, including the Kanaks”.

Consistent with the support recorded during the MSG Senior Officials Meeting and the MSG Foreign Ministers Meeting in March this year, Salwai reaffirmed that the French government “must withdraw or annul the Constitutional Bill that has precipitated these regrettable events in New Caledonia”.

“These events could have been avoided if the French government had listened and not proceeded to press forward with the Constitutional Bill aimed at unfreezing the electoral roll, modifying the citizen’s electorate, and changing the distribution of seats in Congress,” the statement said.

“There is [a] need for the French government to return to the spirit of the Noumea Accord in its dealings relating to New Caledonia,” Salwai said.

The MSG Chair added that there was an urgent need now for France to agree to the proposal by the FLNKS to establish a dialogue and mediation mission to discuss a way forward so that normalcy could be restored quickly and an enduring peace could prevail in New Caledonia.

The statement was signed by Salwai and Vanuatu’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Matai Seremaiah.

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