In New Caledonia, pro-independence leaders perceive economic autonomy as a prerequisite for political independence. The Koniambo Project, a joint venture between a Canadian multinational and a local mining company, is seen by many Kanak as an opportunity to loosen economic ties to metropolitan France. Indeed, unlike cases in which large-scale resource extraction has disadvantaged local groups and intensified demands for political rights, the Koniambo Project resulted from pro-independence activism. This atypical situation can be explained by the French government's strategy in New Caledonia. Violent uprisings in the mid-1980s ended with accords that promised economic development. Radical activists believed this would pave the way for independence while their opponents hoped to obviate such aspirations. Similarly, the Koniambo Project is viewed either as an opportunity for greater Kanak autonomy or as yet another in a series of actions that have used economic gains to deter pro-independence efforts.
The Contemporary Pacific – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Aug 31, 2004