FRENCH MINISTER: DIALOGUE NEEDED IN NEW CALEDONIA

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NOUMEA, New Caledonia (Radio New Zealand International/Radio Australia, Dec. 20) - The French minister in charge of overseas territories, Brigitte Girardin, has called for a dialogue between the key groups to make the collegial government of New Caledonia work.

The administration in Noumea is made up of ten members in proportion to the strength of their parties.

But the pro-independence group has been boycotting recent cabinet meetings because the RPCR majority has failed to adhere to the spirit of the Noumea accord that provides for a collegial government.

Girardin, who has now ended a four-day official visit to the territory, says she can see that the collegial system faces difficulties.

"That's why one has to discuss, one has to know exactly how to put it in place. There is a willingness on part of the RPCR Party to discuss the issues in order to reach decisions."

According to Radio Australia, Girardin, also told Caledonia's pro-independence umbrella group, the Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS), they need to improve their organization.

FLNKS is a party to the pro-autonomy Noumea accord signed in 1998 with anti-independence group rally for New Caledonia within the French republic (RPCR) and the French government.

The accord, based on the principle of a common destiny for all ethnic groups, sets out guidelines for a gradual transfer of powers from the metropolitan power to local authorities.

FLNKS spokesman Victor Tutugoro says although the group was reassured by the French Minister of her resolve to apply the accord, she also called on the group to tighten its organization.

Girardin is continuing her regional tour with a two-day visit to Wallis and Futuna.

December 20, 2002

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

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