In a long-awaited press release published on Tuesday March 28, the independence movement of New Caledonia placed itself in an open position vis-à-vis the French government, saying that it was in favor of the new discussions on self-determination scheduled for 7 to 15 April under the aegis of Matignon, in Paris. The Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS) had on the contrary rejected the invitation of the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, in October 2022, causing her “partners’ agreement” to fail. Until now, only the loyalist camp had engaged in the political process relaunched by the Minister of the Interior and Overseas Territories, Gérald Darmanin, in December 2022, then in early March 2023.
Evoking these last exchanges, largely secret, the FLNKS meeting in “expanded political office” indicates tuesday “validate the framework and method proposed by the State”. Regarding the schedule, “the FLNKS leaves itself the possibility of making it evolve according to the themes which will be treated”. Voluntarist, Mr. Darmanin proposed that the April meeting in Paris be followed by a State-loyalist-independentist meeting in Noumea in May, for a first political agreement validated in September on “the modalities of self-determination”and a constitutional reform in early 2024.
The subject of the transition to self-determination, which Paris conceives “in the French Republic”, is one of the most complex for the government of Elisabeth Borne. It implies a constitutional reform, but the parliamentary majority necessary for this seems more than ever out of reach because of the political crisis opened by the pension reform. In New Caledonia, provincial elections are to be held in May 2024, on which depends the formation of the Caledonian Congress (parliament) and government, both led by the separatists. In order to hold these elections, it is necessary to revise the electorate, restricted more than twenty years ago to the advantage of the Kanaks, who form 40% of the population.
The subject is one of those who could cause a return to civil war on the Caillou. The FLNKS recalls Tuesday that the Pacific territory is still part of a “single trajectory”that of “accession to full sovereignty and independence”. The statutory autonomy defined by the last major agreement to date, that of Noumea in 1998 concluded in principle for twenty years, concerns all areas except the sovereign, a step still to be achieved in the eyes of the separatists.
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