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Noumea, NEW CALEDONIA – October 30, 2020: 2:50pm (RNZ PACIFIC): The French overseas minister Sebastien Lecornu has held talks with ten New Caledonian politicians at a retreat near Noumea to promote dialogue between rival camps, saying a new accord will emerge.

The minister, who delayed yesterday’s planned departure for Paris by at least two days, convened five anti-independence and five pro-independence leaders on Lepredour island, including three provincial presidents and three of the territory’s members of the French legislature.

There has been no official statement about the discussions but in an interview with the Les Nouvelles Caledoniennes, Mr Lecornu said some sort of new accord will emerge as New Caledonians want answers to key questions.

He said they want to know what it is to be French in 2020 and what it is to be independent in 2020.

Mr Lecornu said there won’t be a status quo.

He said should New Caledonia opt for independence, there will be a transition agreement or otherwise there will be a new accord with France.

In the interview, the minister made no reference to a third referendum in 2022, which the anti-independence camp wants to avoid and the pro-independence camp has said it will insist on.

The minister earlier took part in a ceremony in central Noumea where a square was renamed Peace Square.

It was earlier known as Olry Square, named after the 19th century French governor who successfully put down a rebellion by the indigenous Kanaks.

On the square a statue of Jean-Marie Tjibaou and Jacques Lafleur will be erected in honour of their efforts to halt the intercommunal violence of the 1980s.

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