New Caledonia government falls apart over nickel deal and independence push – by Nic Maclellan (The Guardian – February 3, 2021)

Even as Tropical Cyclone Lucas bears down on New Caledonia, the French Pacific dependency also faces a political storm, with the collapse of the multi-party government led by President Thierry Santa.

Five members of the government, representing the pro-independence groups UC-FLNKS and the Union nationale pour l’indépendance (UNI) resigned on 2 February. Both groups are members of the Front de libération nationale kanak et socialiste (FLNKS), which campaigns for independence from France.

The resignations come at a crucial time, as the government debates its budget and the future of nickel mining and smelting, with the islands holding nearly a quarter of the world’s reserves of the critically strategic mineral.

Announcing the resignations, Louis Mapou (UNI) and Pierre Chanel Tein Tutugoro (UC-FLNKS) said: “Throughout 2020, New Caledonia has traversed a deep internal crisis.

This is tied to the social and economic conditions that have built up over many years, uncertainty over the political future – accentuated by the absence of constructive dialogue with the French state to prepare for the next referendum – and the Covid-19 crisis which has had significant impacts since March 2020.

For the rest of this article: