January 23, 2022

Referendum in New Caledonia: the day after

And now ? After this third no to the independence of New Caledonia, Sunday December 12, what will happen? Even if this third referendum ends the process of the Noumea Accord of May 5, 1998, the territory will not sink overnight into a large legal black hole. As long as a new statute has not been approved, the provisions of the Nouméa Agreement and the resulting organic law will continue to apply. The declaration of 1is June, published at the end of the working session held in Paris, provides for a transition period, until June 30, 2023, devoted to the development of a new project, which is not only institutional and legal nature but a common social project.

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers Referendum in New Caledonia: massive abstention confirms the divisions that cross the archipelago

Arrived in New Caledonia on Friday at the request of Emmanuel Macron, the overseas minister, Sébastien Lecornu, must begin to mark the way by talking to the various interlocutors. For now, the separatists have announced that they refused to discuss with him. Officially. This does not prevent informal contacts and, even, official exchanges, without addressing institutional issues but which relate to urgent matters.

Thus, from Tuesday, December 14 and before his return to France, Mr. Lecornu should meet with elected officials of the government and Congress, including the president of the government, the independentist Louis Mapou, on a question that requires urgent answers. : the calamitous state of local finances. In 2020, the State has already granted a loan of 240 million euros, followed by an exceptional grant of 82 million euros, then another of 40 million euros to meet the expenses related to the Covid -19.

But, in the current state, the Caledonian government, with a pro-independence majority, is faced with the same budgetary impasse of the order of 500 million euros and is asking for new state aid for 2021. In the finance bill for 2022, the government was authorized to provide its guarantee for a loan from the French Development Agency for an amount of 210 million euros. It remains for the Caledonian government to find nearly 300 million and to initiate structural reforms.

“We will wait for the next one”

The intransigent front position of the independence leaders, in reality, does not fit well with the urgencies of the moment. In addition to local finances, the failures of the nickel industry are a serious matter of concern, and still weigh the health risks linked to the Covid-19 epidemic, in the face of which national solidarity has played a full role. This will require much to engage in discussions. “We are especially not going to rush, assure the World the government spokesperson, responsible in particular for taxation and mining affairs, Gilbert Tyuienon. There is no point in discussing the next day knowing all the tensions that there were. We have to let things settle down. “ In short: we must not despair the militant base, white-hot by the speeches of recent weeks.

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