Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum and Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown has expressed deep concern over the ongoing political situation in New Caledonia.

“The political situation in New Caledonia remains deeply concerning to the Forum Family.

“I offer our prayers to those affected on the ground, particularly those who have lost loved ones,” PM Brown said in a statement.

Brown emphasised the need for peace and order, commending recent peaceful efforts and high-level discussions in New Caledonia.

“I reiterate the call for peace and order to prevail and commend the ongoing peaceful efforts to reach a mutually agreeable way forward,” he said.

Highlighting the role of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in facilitating dialogue, Brown reiterated the Forum’s readiness to provide a neutral space for all parties.

“I reiterate my earlier statement conveying the Pacific Islands Forum’s readiness to facilitate and provide a supported and neutral space for all parties to come together in the spirit of the Pacific Way.”

As a full member of the Forum, New Caledonia has received direct support from the PIF.

PM Brown mentioned his communication with the President of the Government of New Caledonia, Louis Mapou.

“I have written to President Louis Mapou to offer the support of the PIF, including outlining the comprehensive regional mechanisms and processes available to Forum Members.”

Brown stressed the importance of regional mechanisms in conflict resolution.

“Throughout the Forum’s history, regional mechanisms have played a critical supportive role, particularly in instances where other modalities of conflict resolution have stalled.”

He also addressed the unresolved issue of time needed to resolve these complex issues.

“I acknowledge that following the high-level meetings in Noumea earlier this month, the issue of time to resolve these complex and historical issues remains unsettled.”

Brown referred to the Forum Ministerial Committee’s 2021 New Caledonia Referendum Report, noting its important contextual analysis.

“The report provides valid concerns over the future implications of the disagreement between parties on the matter of timing of the 2021 Referendum.”

Brown urged all parties to work together within the spirit of consensus building.

“Without impeding agreed processes on the way forward, I urge all parties to work together and within the spirit of consensus building as they seek lasting resolution. The events of the past few years in New Caledonia demonstrate that this matter must be underpinned by an inclusive process and must not be rushed,” said PM Brown.