NEW GOVERNMENT ELECTED IN NOUMÉA, STILL SAME PRO/ANTI-INDEPENDENCE BALANCE

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NOUMÉA, New Caledonia (April 4, 2001 - Oceania Flash/SPC)---New Caledonia's 54-seat Congress on Tuesday elected the eleven members of New Caledonia's second government, RFO reports.

The appointment of a new government followed the resignation of New Caledonia's first President, Jean Lèques, who last month said that from now on he preferred to devote his time to New Caledonia's capital, Nouméa, of which he was re-elected Lord Mayor during recently-held municipal elections.

Lèques became New Caledonia's first President almost two years ago, a direct result of provisions contained in the Nouméa Accord, which paves the way for growing autonomy in the French territory and a gradual transfer of powers from metropolitan France to local authorities.

The pact also mentions a possible independence referendum for New Caledonia in "15 to 20" years from the date of signing (1998).

Lèques' resignation automatically required the resignation of his government.

The new Cabinet still reflects a majority of members (seven out of eleven) elected from the de facto anti-independence coalition of RPCR (Rally for New Caledonia within the French Republic) and FCCI (Federation of Pro-Independence Coordination Committees).

Pro-independence FLNKS (Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front) only receives three portfolios and one of its components, Union Calédonienne (UC), one.

The President of the new government is to be elected on Thursday by the new Cabinet.

RPCR has already announced that Frogier would take the position.

However, in a bid to concede to the "collegiality concept," FLNKS President Roch Wamytan could become the territory's Vice President.

New Caledonia's first government legacy, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes comments, was marked mainly by decisions pertaining to social and economic matters.

These included moves to raise the minimum wage to around US$ 1,000 a month, the signing of a so-called "social pact" providing for a more concerted approach to resolving industrial conflicts, and initiating steps for a new local status for the post and telecommunications office by next year.

The first 22 months of the now defunct government were also regarded locally as a "teething exercise," especially on the Nouméa Accord-promoted principle of "collegiality," a concept that was labeled as "non-existent" by pro-independence members.

NEW CALEDONIA'S NEW GOVERNMENT AS ANNOUNCED ON TUESDAY

RPCR/FCCI coalition members:

Pierre Frogier, RPCR, member of the French National Assembly, member of New Caledonia's Southern Province

Léopold Jorédié, FCCI, vice-President in New Caledonia's first government, in charge of education (re-elected)

Maurice Ponga, RPCR member of New Caledonia's first government (agriculture and livestock), re-elected

Françoise Mariotti, RPCR, member of New Caledonia's first government, re-elected

Pierre Maresca, RPCR, member of New Caledonia's first government (transports and communications), re-elected

Alain Lazare, RPCR, mayor of Bouloupari (North of Nouméa)

Hervé Chatelain, RPCR member of New Caledonia's Southern Province

FLNKS members:

Roch Wamytan, FLNKS and UC President, member of New Caledonia's first government (in charge of customary affairs and relations between the Congress and the Customary -traditional- Senate), re-elected

Déwé Gorodé, member of New Caledonia's first government (in charge of culture, youth and sports), re-elected

Aukusitino Manuohalalo, FLNKS, member of New Caledonia's first government (health and social affairs), re-elected

Union Calédonienne:

Gérald Cortot, member of New Caledonia's first government (public utilities), re-elected.

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