In New Caledonia, Sébastien Lecornu manages to renew the dialogue between loyalists and separatists

Sébastien Lecornu’s trip to New Caledonia, started on October 9 with a strict sanitary fortnight, is nearing completion. A long journey whose results are “Unexpected”, in the words of the Minister of Overseas. The member of the government can boast of having succeeded in bringing back around the table, Thursday, October 29, political actors some of whom had not spoken to each other for months, even years. And to re-establish a process of exchange and dialogue, in the absence of an agreement that it is too early to foresee, where the two camps – that of the supporters of independence and that of maintaining in the Republic – are clashed block against block. During the referendum of October 4, the yes to accession to full sovereignty had collected 46.7%, against 53.3% for the no.

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In the middle of the day Thursday, Mr. Lecornu, who was to leave for the metropolis at night, announced that he was extending his stay by two days in order to continue his interviews and his meetings. He was to go on Friday to the site of the nickel plant Vale NC, in the south of the territory, threatened with closure. The government is participating in the search for a buyer. For their part, the separatists, supported by the customaries, oppose the takeover of the site by foreign interests. They support the project defended by the semi-public company Sofinor, majority-owned by the North Province, in alliance with the company Korea Zinc, and called on the population to mobilize this Friday.

“Our story is a whole”

Thursday, at the end of a ceremony held in front of the town hall of Nouméa, the minister was questioned by the spokesperson of the collective “Usine du Sud = factory country”, Raphaël Mapou, accompanied by the president of the customary Senate, Justin Gaïa, asking him to clarify the position of the state. “The State does not take sides with this or that offer, said Lecornu. He is there to ensure the legality and solidity of the offers and that the commercial rules are respected. But he doesn’t have to interfere in the negotiations. “ The nickel file, once again, is at the heart of discussions on the future of New Caledonia.

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Thursday therefore began with a ceremony initiated by the mayor of Noumea, Sonia Lagarde, in the company of Marie-Claude Tjibaou and Isabelle Lafleur, the widow and daughter of the two main protagonists of the agreement of reconciliation of June 26, 1988. On this occasion, they unveiled the prefiguration of a statue representing the handshake between the two men. It will be erected in the center of a future “Place de la Paix”, in place of the current Square Olry, where the statue of Jean-Baptiste Olry, former governor of New Caledonia from 1878 to 1880, sits enthroned. had suppressed with arms and blood the insurrection led by the great chief Atai in 1878.

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