Kanaki parties debate their future

THEY came from the north, the South and the islands of New Caledonia. Delegates from the Front de Libération Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS) gathered at Ko We Kara on 5-6 March, for the first congress of New Caledonia’s independence coalition in more than two years. Over two days, FLNKS leaders and delegates debated a range of pressing issues: the looming referendum on self-determination in 2018; chaos in the country’s nickel industry; and how to address the social crisis caused by unemployment and an influx of French migrants after the 2008 global financial crisis.

Above all, the Congress focussed on the challenge of uniting the independence movement at a time of significant differences on the way forward. Despite media predictions of a split within the independence coalition, the FLNKS Congress came out with a united resolution, reaffirming the objective of “leading the country to full sovereignty after 2018.” The FLNKS, founded in 1984, is currently a coalition of four pro-independence parties.

Union Calédonienne (UC) is one of the oldest political parties in the Pacific, established in 1953 but adopting a pro-independence stand in 1977 under its charismatic leader, the late Jean-Marie Tjibaou. The other major force in the FLNKS is the Parti de Libération Kanak (Palika), which grew out of the radical youth movement Foulards Rouges during the 1970s.

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