Pacific / New Caledonia

FLNKS divided over vision for New Caledonia

07:27 am on 9 December 2019

The FLNKS flag widely used in New Caledonia Photo: RNZ Walter Zweifel

A weekend Congress of New Caledonia's pro-independence FLNKS movement has failed to agree on how to proceed should voters opt for independence from France next year.

Most parties have expressed a preference to enter into a partnership with France while the Caledonian Union would prefer stepping up to full sovereignty.

The referendum question in last year's first such plebiscite under the Noumea Accord asked voters whether they wanted New Caledonia to have full independence.

Just over 56 percent voted for the status quo while all opinion polls predicted a much higher vote rejecting independence.

Most voters in the Northern and the Loyalty Islands Provinces voted for independence while an overwhelming majority in the Southern Province voted against it.

Critics of the partnership idea say this will lead to a form of neo-colonialism.

The second of three possible independence referendums is due in September.

Daniel Goa, a separatist politician, (L) Photo: AFP

Vale's nickel strategy irks FLNKS

There is further criticism of plans to export New Caledonia's nickel ore as part of the new strategy by Brazil's miner Vale.

Vale has put its nickel assets in the south of New Caledonia up for sale while planning to export ore to be processed elsewhere.

However, critics have said that such exports need changes ot the mining code as the ore reserves made available to the Vale plant have to be processed in New Caledonia.

The spokesman of the pro-independence FLNKS movement Daniel Goa has told local media that sovereignty won't be discusseds in terms of short-term profits of a multinational company.

He says instead the discussion has to be about the long-term benefits for the people, and to achieve this, his side is prepared to make sacrifices.

Mr Goa says building a country means mastering its own mining resources.

Talks are being planned with unions about the changed strategy as an unspecified number of jobs are expected to be lost next year.