Emblematic in the contemporary history of New Caledonia, the Matignon agreements, signed under the aegis of Michel Rocard, then Prime Minister, sealed the reconciliation between loyalists and separatists after several years of deadly violence, including the tragedy of the cave of Ouvéa was the paroxysm, with 21 dead, including 19 Kanak militants and two soldiers.

The 2.5-meter bronze statue of the two men, inaugurated in the presence of Kanak politicians and customary officials, was unveiled in the heart of downtown Nouméa, on a site now called “Place de la paix” or “Koo Wee Joka”, in a Kanak language of the region.

This initiative, which attracted several hundred people, was originally taken by the widow of the Kanak leader, Marie-Claude Tjibaou, the daughter of Jacques Lafleur (who died in 2010), Isabelle, and the mayor of Noumea, Sonia The guard.

In a speech mixing emotion and a political message, Mrs Tjibaou, whose husband was assassinated in 1989 by a radical separatist, underlined that “to celebrate peace today in the shadow of these two great men is to remember that responsibility is first individual before being collective”.

“Both were not mandated by their respective political apparatuses to sign these agreements, so they took responsibility in their own name first to move forward on this project of making peace,” he said. she declared.

This statue “will allow the youth of this country not to forget history”, for her part insisted Isabelle Lafleur.

“Never forget that here a civil war took place and that more than 90 people died out of a population of 160,000 people”, between 1981 and 1988, she recalled.