French Senate President To Visit New Caledonia

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Jean-Pierre Bel to meet with leaders, tour provinces

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Nov. 11, 2013) – The president of the French Senate, Jean-Pierre Bel, is due in New Caledonia tomorrow, becoming the latest high-profile French visitor before the territory’s crucial polls in May.

During his three-day stay, Mr Bel will meet a cross-section of political leaders and visit all three provinces.

Walter Zweifel reports.

"Mr Bel’s visit comes two months after the law commission of the French National Assembly was in Noumea and four months after a tour of the prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. French interest has a new focus as the territory’s Congress, which will be formed after the May election, will oversee the last phase of the 1998 Noumea Accord, which calls for an independence referendum. However, such a vote can be put off if the political leaders and the voters agree on a new statute, which in turn would require changing the French constitution."

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