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Joint hosting of the French and FLNKS flags in New Caledonia

Last modified: 2014-04-27 by ivan sache
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[French Flag]         [FLNKS Flag]

French national and FLNKS flag - Images by Željko Heimer, 22 September 2001, and Arnaud Leroy, 16 March 2006, respectively

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First steps towards the joint hoisting of the two flags

AFP (Agence France-Presse) reports on 12 February 2010 a first step towards a possible official recognition of the independentist flag of New Caledonia.
Interviewed by Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes, the Representative Pierre Frogier, President of Rassemblement-UMP (that is, the anti- independentist, local branch of UMP), proposed to accept the independentist flag (the FLNKS flag) to be flown side by side with the French national flag. The independentist flag would "represent the Melanesian and Oceanian part of New Caledonia, indissociable from its European and French identity". Frogier expects the independentists "to lift any ambiguity and bring the flag as a cultural symbol rid of the violence that taunts it." "Adding our two legitimities, we would have made a new step towards each other", added Frogier.
Frogier's statement is quite surprising since the discussions on the future symbols of New Caledonia, provisioned by the Nouméa Agreement signed in 1998, were rather stuck. Very reluctant with new symbols in the past, Rassemblement-UMP seems to follow now a direction given by President of the Republic Nicolas Sarkozy in his New Years' Wishes. The President expected "discussions to start much earlier than 2014 [the earliest date for the self-determination referendum] to obtain a consensual status that could be approved "by a very large majority".

The independentists approved Frogier's statement. Charles Pidjot, President of Union Calédonienne, a component of FLNKS, sayd that "it is a step in a constructive approach for the country. The common future should not remain a literary formula."
Jean-Pierre Djiawé, from Palika, another component of FLNKS, approved the proposal but recalled that in the Loyauté Islands Province, ran by the independentists, the two flags were already used side by side.
Didier Leroux (Center) "would have prefered a common flag" but admitted that Frogier's initiative was "natural".

Ivan Sache & Pascal Vagnat, 17 February 2010

Legalization of the joint hoisting of the two flags

The Congress of of New Caledonia approved on 13 July 2010 a motion that acknowledged the proposal of flying jointly the two flags. Out of 54 elected members, 42 voted for the motion. The French Prime Minister, François Fillon, was asked to inaugurate the official use of the two flags, when he makes a visit to the island.

The official ceremony of raising the two flags took place on 17 July 2010 in the Haut-Commissariat (French administration), in the presence of the French Prime Minister, François Fillon, and of the local authorities (video).
Three flags were indeed hoisted: the French national flag, the FLNKS flag (called the "flag of the Kanak country" by some reporters), and, in the middle, the flag of the Superior Command of the Armed Forces in New Caledonia.

The use of the joint flags was eventually prescribed on 27 July 2010 by the Government of New Caledonia, following a vote of the Executive (7 out of 11 approved the hoisting).

The use of the joint flags caused the fall of the Government of New Caledonia on 17 February 2011. The three members of the Executive belonging to Union Calédonienne (UC), part of the FLNKS coalition, resigned. They claimed that the President of the Government, Philippe Gomés (also Mayor of La Foa), "obstructed" to the adoption of the two flags as the emblem of New Caledonia. Charles Pidjot, President of UC, considered that Gomès was responsible of the refusal by four municipalities to jointly hoist the two flags (Le Monde, 17 February 2011).

Jos Poels, André Coutanche, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 18 July 2010

The joint hoisting of the two flags in practice

The two flags are jointly hoisted by the Government of New Caledonia (photo, workshop on sports, 1 August 2013; photo, visit of the French Prime Minister, 26 July 2013; photo, 19th Summit of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, 20 June 2013; photo, meeting with the Higher Commissioner of the Republic, 28 February 2013; photo, visit of the Japanese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, 25 February 2013).

The two flags are jointly hoisted by the three Provincial Assemblies. The Loyauté Islands and North Provinces, mostly inhabited by Kanaks, have been using the flags since 1989. On 7 August 2010, the Provincial Assembly of the South Province hoisted the two flags. Pierre Frogier, President of the Province, a strong opponent to the design of a third, common flag, presented the joint hoisting as a "token of trust to FLNKS".

The two flags are jointly hoisted by all of the 33 New Caledonian municipalities but three: Bourail, La Foa and Maré. Ending a long reluctance, the Municipal Council of Moindou hoisted the two flags on 15 February 2012 (Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes, 16 February 2012).
Bourail is considered as the Caldoche capital, which explains the rejection of the FLNKS flag. The municipal executive claimed that Pierre Frogier had never cared explaining the rationale of the joint use of the two flags, which he eventually did in Bourail on 10 May 2012 (video). On 20 September 2012, Jean-Pierre Aîfa, Mayor of Bourail, supported by some members of the Municipal Council, made a quite odd and controversial proposal. He suggested to adopt a Country Law (specific to New Caledonia) stating: "The flag of the country is the Kanak identitary flag. The name of the country is Nouvelle-Calédonie". This would respect both the Kanak identity and the "future shared by all" (Nouvelle-Calédonie 1ère, 21 September 2012).

Ivan Sache, 19 August 2013