In Nouméa, the separatists take control of the executive but fail to agree on a president

Henriette Tidjine-Hmae and Pascal Sawa (UC-FLNKS) attend the elections for the formation of the government, in Nouméa, on February 17.

New Caledonia is going from rebound to rebound. She has been going through a period of great instability for several months. An uncertainty that has increased since October 4, 2020, date of the second referendum on the accession to full sovereignty. At the end of this new consultation, the gap narrowed between the supporters of maintaining in the French Republic (53.3%) and those of independence (46.7%), clearly marking the fracture of the territory between two blocks.

Wednesday February 17 was a new episode. If a government could be formed, giving for the first time since the Nouméa agreement of May 5, 1998 a majority to the separatists, the executive has not succeeded in acquiring a president.

Unable to agree on the name of a president of the collegial government, the two main components of the FLNKS will have to find, in the days to come, a way out. The High Commission of the Republic should convene “As soon as the conditions are met” a new ballot.

Subtle meanders

Six separatists against five loyalists, such is the composition of this new executive, elected by the fifty-four members of the Congress of New Caledonia, itself resulting from the provincial elections which were held in May 2019.

Of these fifty-four members, the voting system specific to the “Caillou” – which excludes tens of thousands of non-natives of the territory from the vote – granted twenty-five seats to the loyalists, twenty-six to the separatists and three to L ‘Awakening Oceania, pivotal formation representing the Wallisian and Futunian community.

Read also A separatist will lead the Congress of New Caledonia

Caledonian politics is made of subtle meanders where political commitment, identity belonging, social position, economic interests, customary ties, religious formation and fraternal allegiances are interwoven, without ruling out personal dividends. All this gives rise to reversible situations, unresolved resentment, accommodating connections. Thus, during the election of the previous government, L’Eveil Oceanien allowed the election of a pro-independence president of Congress, Roch Wamytan, before favoring that of a loyalist president of the government, Thierry Santa.

The Oceanic Awakening had also, at the same time, obtained for its leader, Milakulo Tukumuli, a vice-presidency of the Assembly of the Southern Province, chaired by the main figure of the loyalists, Sonia Backès.

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