The national congress of New Caledonia’s pro-independence platform, the FLNKS, was postponed at the weekend due to major differences between its hard-line component and its more moderate parties.

The FLNKS is the Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front.

It consists of several pro-independence parties, including the Kanak Liberation Party (PALIKA), the Progressist Union in Melanesia (UPM) and the more hard-line Union Calédonienne (UC).

In recent months, following a perceived widening rift between the moderate and hard-line components of the pro-independence umbrella, UC has decided to revive a so-called “Field Action Coordination Cell” (CCAT).

This has been increasingly active from October 2023 and more recently during the series of actions that degenerated into roadblocks, riots, looting and arson.

CCAT mainly consists of hard-line political parties, trade unions within the pro-independence movement.

The 43rd FLNKS congress, in that context, was perceived and described as “crucial” on several key points.

These include the platform’s stance on the ongoing unrest and which action to take next and a response to a call to lift all remaining roadblocks; but also the pro-independence movement’s fielding of candidates who will contest the French snap general election to be held on 30 June and 07 July.

There are two seats and constituencies for New Caledonia at the French National Assembly.

The 43rd FLNKS Congress, convened in the small village of Netchaot – near the town of Koné north of the main island – was this year under the responsibility of moderate PALIKA.

It started to take place on Saturday 15 June, under heavy security from the organisers, who followed a policy of systematic searches of all participants, including party leaders, local media reported.

However, the UC delegation arrived three hours late, around midday.

There was then a meeting of all component party leaders, for about one hour, behind closed doors, public broadcaster NC la 1ère reported on Sunday.

It was later announced that the congress, including a much-awaited debate on sensitive points, would not go on and was “postponed”.

The main bone of contention was the fact that a large group of CCAT militants were being kept waiting in their vehicles on the road to the small village, with the hope of being allowed to take part in the FLNKS congress, with the support of UC.

But hosts and organisers made it clear that this was not acceptable and could be seen as an attempt from the hard-line movement to take over the whole of FLNKS.

They said they had concerns about the security of the whole event if the CCAT’s numerous militants were allowed in.

Thursday and Friday last week, ahead of the FLNKS gathering, CCAT had organised its own general assembly in the town of Bourail – on the west coast of the main island – with an estimated 300-plus militants in attendance.

Moderate components of the FLNKS and organisers also made clear on Saturday that if and when the postponed congress resumed at another date, all roadblocks still in place throughout New Caledonia should be lifted.

In a separate release last week, PALIKA already called on all blockades in New Caledonia to be removed so that freedom of movement could be restored, especially at a time when voters were being called to the polls on 30 June and 7 July as part of the French snap general election.

As the deadline for lodging candidates expired on Sunday, it was announced that FLNKS, as an umbrella, did not field any.

UC, on its part, had separately fielded two candidates, Omaira Naisseline and Emmanuel Tjibaou, one for each of the two constituencies.

Earlier this month, UC President Daniel Goa said he now aimed at proclaiming New Caledonia’s independence on 24 September 2025.

The date coincides with the anniversary of France’s colonisation “taking possession” of New Caledonia on 24 September, 1853.