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November 23, 1999
PINA Nius Online


NOUMEA, New Caledonia (November 23, 1999 - PINA Nius Online)---A strike which started last week at the domestic airline company, Air Calédonie (AirCal), has caused several flights to be re-routed from the domestic Airport at Magenta to New Caledonia's Tontouta International Airport, some 50 kilometers (30 miles) away from the capital, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reports.

The strike has not caused flights to be cancelled, but has seriously delayed them.

Since Magenta has been forced to close at 9:00 p.m. due to the strike, scheduled flights leaving the Loyalty Islands in the evening can no longer use the domestic airport and have redirected to Tontouta.

Some 200 foreign delegates who were flying back from Lifou Island (Loyalty Islands group), where they were taking part in University of Communication activities, experienced the inconvenience of having to land away from Noumea and travel an additional hour by road to get back to the territorial capital.

The strike is being staged by the USTKE (Union des Syndicats de Travailleurs Kanak Exploités) union, which is protesting the sacking of one of its members.

An administrative tribunal in Paris already has ruled that the dismissal is legal.



NOUMEA, New Caledonia (November 23, 1999 - PINA Nius Online)---A Japanese tourist was killed this week in a road accident on New Caledonia's Isle of Pines, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reports.

The Japanese woman, riding a bicycle, was hit by a mini-bus coming from the opposite direction.

The driver of the mini-bus, who tested positive for excessive alcohol, was arrested and placed in custody pending a trial later this week.



NOUMEA, New Caledonia (November 23, 1999 - PINA Nius Online)---A three-day colloquium on the theme of "Shared Sovereignty" ended in Noumea last Friday on a disappointing note, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reports.

Lawyers and academics debated over a shared sovereignty concept in the territory and its possible implications for laws and regulations.

Under the Noumea Accord signed last year, New Caledonia is eligible to gain possible independence in "15 to 20" years and, meanwhile, to increase local autonomy and sovereignty through a gradual transfer of powers from metropolitan France.

Debates were particularly heated over voting rights and a recent endorsement by the French Senate and the National Assembly of a "freezing" of the electoral roll in the territory.

"This is a very dear price to pay and it doesn't follow jurisprudence on the matter," Paris law professor Olivier Gohin said.

"Nothing is too dear in order to avoid the tragic events New Caledonia has seen in the past," Overseas Territories Law Institute director Jean-Yves Faberon replied.

The bill, which is an amendment to the French constitution, limits conditions of eligibility on the New Caledonian sovereignty electoral roll to those individuals who already had voting rights in 1988.

It remains to be endorsed by a special meeting of the French Congress (a joint meeting of the Senate and National Assembly), which has been scheduled to meet in January by French President Jacques Chirac.

The conference ended with no real agreement on the institutional future of New Caledonia, Les Nouvelles reports.

"We could have carried on talking for weeks. The result would have been the same," an international law specialist from France said.



NOUMEA, New Caledonia (November 23, 1999 - PINA Nius Online)---The Light transport vessel "Jacques Cartier" left New Caledonia for East Timor Saturday, where it is to join a French contingent as part of "Operation Santal," the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reports.

The vessel, which received orders from Paris, will take over from the "Prairial," its sister ship, which is shuttling between East Timor and Australia as part of the Australia-coordinated United Nations INTERFET.

The "Jacques Cartier" is commanded by Captain Christian de la Rochebrochard and bears regimental number L9033.

It is due to come back in New Caledonia "between 15 and 31 January," de la Rochebrochard said.

Since they arrived in East Timor, the French forces have transported some 54 tons of food to needy populations in the troubled province and set up a mobile hospital and surgical facility, where over a hundred operations have been performed and about 3,000 people treated, the French army said.

"In this operation, France has demonstrated its interest in the people of East Timor and has shown its responsibility as a Pacific neighboring power," New Caledonia's armed forces (FANC) commander, General Xavier de Zuchowicz, said.

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 Website: 

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