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NEW CALEDONIA NEWS Friday, October 15, 1999 PINA Nius

NOUMEA, New Caledonia (October 15, 1999 - PINA Nius Online)---Twenty New Caledonian soldiers will leave for East Timor Monday aboard a Hercules C-130. They will reinforce a contingent of troops posted there earlier as part of the Australia-led INTERFET, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reports.

The first New Caledonian soldiers to take part in the INTERFET, under an operation codenamed "Santal" (sandalwood), left here last month. They first stopped over in Darwin (Australia) before taking up positions in Dili.

The French New Caledonian troops, about 1,000 men commanded by Colonel Brantchen, set up a mobile hospital. The contingent also is responsible for providing security in the general hospital area.

"We're really getting on well with the Australians, and troop morale is very high. There is no major problem to report," New Caledonia's armed forces (FANC) commander, Brigadier General Xavier de Zuchowicz, said. "We get a daily briefing on what's going on over there."

The French hospital is being used primarily to provide general medical care to local residents, not to treat emergency battle casualties.

Last Wednesday, another transport ship from France, the "Sirocco," arrived with helicopters and armored vehicles for the French New Caledonia contingent.

Meanwhile, another 130 men remain in New Caledonia are on 24-hour alert, ready to join the INTERFET as soon as called.



NOUMEA, New Caledonia (October 15, 1999 - PINA Nius Online)---Since a petition was begun demanding that one of New Caledonia's rare "cagou" not to be taken from its owner’s home, the bird has become an icon, collecting some 15,189 signatures, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reports.

The petition has now reached the Nouméa mayor and the public prosecutor and is close to becoming a territorial-wide issue.

Just over a month ago, a handful of supporters asked that 30-year-old Houaïlou, a cagou bird (crested pigeon) and a New Caledonian symbol, not to be removed from its home.

But new neighbors complained about the bird's "barking" early in the morning and filed a court action for Houaïlou to be let loose in Nouméa's Forest Park.

The petition indicates that one in five New Caledonians now support keeping the old bird at its current residence, in Faubourg Blanchot, downtown Nouméa.

"This general position clearly shows that New Caledonians are concerned that no one touches this cagou, which is the symbol of New Caledonia," New Caledonia's Nature Protection Association said triumphantly in a statement.

A possible solution to the problem is to build a wall between the neighbors’ house and Houaïlou's owners’ house.

Ironically, since the controversy started, the old bird has not been "barking" in the morning.

This bulletin was produced by the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA). Editor: Patrick Antoine Decloitre E-mail: 

For more information, contact Nina Ratulele, PINA Administrator, at 

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Damodar Centre, 1st Floor 46 Gordon Street Suva, Republic of the Fiji Islands Tel: (679) 303 623 Fax : (679) 303 943 Postal Address: PINA, Private Mail Bag, Suva, Fiji Islands

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