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Pro-Macron parties in New Caledonia plan merger

Tuesday 10 May 2022 | Written by RNZ | Published in New Caledonia, Regional

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Pro-Macron parties in New Caledonia plan merger
Photo: AFP/RNZ

Four pro-Macron parties in New Caledonia have joined forces to plan a merger.

The move comes as the territory prepares for a new statute after last year's rejection of independence from France.

This new alliance combines established parties as well as the newly formed Generations NC but excludes the remnants of the oldest anti-independence party, the Rassemblement.

It said the four - Caledonia Together, the Republicans, MPC, and Generations NC - would work together towards a formal merger with a common political project given the major deadlines awaiting New Caledonia.

It declared that they shared principles and values as the basis for their discussions to become a 'common New Caledonian house'.

This yet-to-be-named alliance said it was time for the pro-and anti-independence sides to negotiate under the auspices of France a political consensus for a New Caledonia within the French republic as it considered the decolonisation process complete.

Last December, more than 96 percent voted against independence in the third and last referendum under the 1998 Noumea Accord, which had provided for a phased and irreversible transfer of power from France to New Caledonia.

The referendum was boycotted by the pro-independence camp, which keeps refusing to recognise the result as the legitimate outcome of the decolonisation process initiated in the 1980s.

Paris said it planned to hold another referendum in June next year about a new statute for a New Caledonia within France, but the pro-independence side said it would only discuss a path to sovereignty.

In the face of such objections, the anti-independence side is keen to muster as much unity as possible.

With the election of a new French National Assembly next month, the anti-independence group also committed itself to be aligned to Renaissance, the renamed ruling party of the French President Emmanuel Macron.

The president of New Caledonia's Southern Province Sonia Backes said she was asked by Renaissance to organise the local support for Macron's party.

Sonia Backes
Sonia Backes Photo: Facebook

It has chosen its two candidates for the territory's two Assembly seats, hoping to shore up the chances of Renaissance to retain its majority.

The two are Philippe Dunoyer of the Caledonia Together Party and Nicolas Metzdorf, who is the leader of the Generations NC.

The two seats had been held by Dunoyer and Philippe Gomes, a former New Caledonian president who decided against standing for another term.

Dunoyer said they always supported Macron and wanted to be a local variant of his party.

New Caledonia's Budget Minister Philippe Dunoyer
Philippe Dunoyer of the Caledonia Together Party Photo: AFP

Support for Macron among anti-independence supporters was firmed up after the December referendum, with the mayor of Noumea Sonia Lagarde hailing his backing for their cause as flawless.

She said after the vote that New Caledonia's decision to stay with France was due to his commitment.

Thierry Santa
Thierry Santa Photo: supplied FB Rassemblement

The new alliance excludes New Caledonia's sister party of the traditional French centre right, the Rassemblement, and the National Rally, which has been the staunchest anti-independence force.

For the French National Assembly election, New Caledonia's Rassemblement nominated its candidates last month.

They are Thierry Santa and Virginie Ruffenach.

The pro-independence camp said it would also contest the two seats but is yet to name its candidates.

Substantive negotiations about New Caledonia's future status are unlikely to get started before the National Assembly election and the formation of a new French government.