NEW PARTY TAKES SHAPE IN NEW CALEDONIA

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NOUMEA, New Caledonia (Oceania Flash, Aug. 30) - New Caledonia's newcomer in the political spectrum, the Avenir Ensemble (Future Together) Party, has at the weekend become a fully-fledged party, three months after the elections that gave it significance.

The Avenir Ensemble was until recently a list of candidates, a sort of coalition between several parties in New Caledonia.

It mainly consisted of disgruntled former members of New Caledonia's former ruling party - the anti-independence RPCR-Rassemblement – campaigning for change.

At provincial elections held in May, the movement won a majority in New Caledonia's Southern province assembly, and the same number of seats as the RPCR-Rassemblement, in New Caledonia's Congress (Parliament).

In June, a government was formed, headed by Avenir Ensemble's Marie-Noëlle Thémereau.

Avenir Ensemble altogether has four seats in the eleven-member executive.

But it was still not legally constituted as a party.

On Saturday, over 4,000 supporters attended the party's constitutive assembly, which was held in a famous Nouméa resort, local media reported.

In its Constitution, the new party pledges to "fully implement the Nouméa Accord, in the spirit and in the letter".

The Accord, signed in May 1998 between New Caledonia's pro and anti-independence parties and the French government, paves the way for a greater autonomy for the French Pacific territory.

The party's Constitution has been announced on an interim basis and a party President is scheduled to be elected early October.

The document also states its wish to see more political consensus so that the concept of a New Caledonia citizenship emerges.

It also calls on a fairer distribution of wealth between the generally affluent Southern province and the less favored Northern and Loyalty Islands provinces.

Most of the themes had already been announced earlier this month by Thémereau, when she delivered a speech before Congress to announce the highlights of her political intentions.

August 31, 2004

Oceania Flash: E-mail/Courriel: padec@iname.com

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