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Social unrest continues amidst political instability

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 10, 2011) – At least 2,000 people have joined a weekend march in Noumea to support a campaign by a group advocating a new New Caledonian flag.

The rally came amid a dispute over whether a new flag should be chosen as suggested by the Noumea Accord or whether the Accord signatories’ compromise should be followed which calls for the joint use of the Kanak and the French flags.

The flag dispute has seen four collegial governments fall in less than two months, prompting Paris to send the overseas territories minister, Marie-Luce Penchard, to Noumea this week.

The leader of the Caledonia Together Party, Philippe Gomes, joined the rally, telling the crowd its campaign was worthy and just.

His government fell in February when three ministers of the Caledonian Union resigned after accusing him of being against the two-flag policy.

In response, the Caledonia Together Party triggered three government collapses in four weeks.

Last Saturday’s rally took place a week late because the French high commissioner had banned a demonstration planned for the previous Saturday, citing security reasons.

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