Emmanuel Macron on Friday urged separatists and non-independence activists in New Caledonia to reach an agreement on the status of the archipelago by the end of the year with a view to a constitutional revision at the start of 2024.
During a meeting with all the stakeholders at the Elysée Palace, the Head of State "insisted on the need to reach this agreement in order to fully commit to the path of forgiveness and the future", indicated the presidency.
This path involves “recognizing everyone’s stories” and “going further” in the economic and social development of the archipelago with “major investments,” she added.
Emmanuel Macron also "recalled the challenge of 2024 and the need to move forward in this constrained calendar". "The government is working on an agreement by the end of the year," insisted the Elysée.
The two camps had not directly discussed the future of the archipelago since 2019 and the referendum of December 12, 2021 won by the “no” to independence, but boycotted by the separatists.
Before the Elysée, they had already been received on Wednesday by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne in Matignon. “A constructive week marking very significant progress,” welcomed the presidency.
Emmanuel Macron, for his part, had also already met with independence and non-independence actors in July in Nouméa to try to reach a consensus.
But some of the separatists, in particular representatives of the Caledonian Union (UC), the most radical formation, did not take part in this meeting.
The president then said he was “personally hurt” by their absence. This time, all the players, including Gilbert Tyuienon and Mickaël Forrest of the Caledonian Union, responded.
The government announced that it had put on the table an "ambitious" draft agreement, relating in particular to the institutional future of the archipelago, and the exercise of the "right to self-determination", as well as the construction of a Caledonian citizenship.
Discussions must also focus on the future of the nickel sector, a weakened economic pillar of the archipelago, even though Europe and France have enormous needs for it to manufacture automobile electric batteries.
The delegations agree to meet again and "continue to work" with the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin, who will travel to New Caledonia at the end of October.
The objective is to arrive, "by October 11", at "a document which takes stock of the points of agreement and the points of disagreement", Sonia Backès, Secretary of State, told AFP. State in charge of Citizenship, president of the Southern Province of New Caledonia and leader of the Loyalists.
At the end of October, Gérald Darmanin will then negotiate with the parties in Nouméa "on the points which remain to be negotiated", she added, without being able to say whether there will be an overall agreement.
“It’s not simple, there are points on which we are quite far from each other but the Minister of the Interior puts a lot of energy and patience into it,” she assured.
Same story with the more moderate separatists, who also underline the objective of reaching an agreement by November.
“We have the feeling that things are moving forward. We are going to get to work,” said Victor Tutugoro, a member of the Socialist Kanak Liberation Front (FLNKS) delegation. “At the end of October, we will really open negotiations,” he told AFP.
09/09/2023 03:18:47 - Paris (AFP) - © 2023 AFP