NEW CALEDONIAN PRO-INDEPENDENCE LEADER CONCERNED OVER FRENCH RESPONSE

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TO NOUMEA ACCORD

NOUMEA, New Caledonia (November 26, 1998 - AFP)---The head of the main New Caledonian pro-independence party Thursday accused the French government of failing to honor promises over an accord giving more autonomy to the Pacific territory.

Roch Wamytan, head of the Kanak National Socialist Liberation Front (FLNKS), said France was trying to water down the Noumea accord, which was overwhelmingly approved by New Caledonians in a referendum this month.

"France is not respecting its word and its signature. The French state is cheating and lying to New Caledonians who ratified this accord by 72 percent, and it is cheating the FLNKS," he said.

Wamytan was reacting to comments Wednesday by the French minister in charge of overseas territories, Jean-Jacques Queyranne, who was outlining plans to transform the accord into law.

"The draft law does not go nearly far enough and waters down the Noumea accord in some places," said Wamytan.

He said the FLNKS was unhappy about the way a range of issues in the accord had been addressed in the draft law, including employment rights and citizenship.

The Noumea accord, signed by French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and political leaders in New Caledonia in May, paves the way for a new assembly and a new referendum in 15 to 20 years time on full independence.

Michael J Field Agence France-Presse Auckland, New Zealand TEL: (64 21) 688-438 FAX: (64 21) 694-035 E-Mail: afp.nz@clear.net.nz WWW: http://www.afp.com/english/

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