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NOUMEA, New Caledonia (May 11, 1999 - Radio Australia)---The leader of the main anti-independence party in New Caledonia, the Rally for Caledonia in the Republic (RPCR), Jacques Lafleur, says he is disappointed his party did not win an absolute majority of seats in New Caledonia's new Congress.

Mr. Lafleur's RPCR fell four seats short of an absolute majority following Sunday’s election and, while he says he is pleased his party has increased voter support compared to 1994 results, he says he had hoped the RPCR would have won at least half the seats.

He says the extreme right wing National Front increased its vote by scaring the electorate, but that New Caledonia has to leave behind the violence of the past.

Mr. Lafleur declined to say which party he would prefer to go into coalition with, but spoke favorably about the pro-independence FCCI, which split last year from the FLNKS.

Mr. Lafleur praised the FCCI as a party of peace.


NOUMEA, New Caledonia (May 10, 1999 - Radio Australia/PACNEWS)---The final make-up of the newly elected Congress in New Caledonia will favor the conservative anti-independence party, which will hold more of the 54 seats in the Congress that will take the French territory into a more autonomous future than any other party.

The largest party will be Jacque Lefleur’s Rally for Caledonia in the Republic (RPCR) with 24 seats.

The principal pro-independence coalition Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak Socialiste (FLNKS) won 12 seats.

The extreme right-wing National Front, which campaigned on the slogan "We Love France," won four seats.

Another group, the Alliance, which campaigned against the Noumea Accords, got three seats in Congress.

Apart from the FLNKS, three other pro-independence parties won seats.

Next month the new Congress will elect a president and a government that will gradually take over the running of New Caledonia’s affairs from the French High Commissioner

Sunday’s election was the first since the signing of the Noumea Accord last year, providing for the gradual and irreversible transfer of power from France to the territory, with a referendum regarding full sovereignty to take place in 10 to 15 tears time.

Approximately 310,000 persons, including indigenous Kanaks and others who had lived in New Caledonia for ten years up to 1998, were authorized to cast votes Sunday.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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