Covid-19: in New Caledonia, the Minister of Overseas Territories is in isolation

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Neither released nor released. Since Friday, the Minister of Overseas Territories is no longer master of his movements. A shame for an elected official used to swallowing the kilometers by car. Sébastien Lecornu finds himself locked in a house, not far from the port of Noumea. The building is surrounded by a fence, surmounted by barbed wire. “After a twenty-two hour flight and a stopover in Tokyo, we were brought here,” says Sébastien Lecornu, reached by telephone. We do not have the right to leave it, or even to greet the mobile gendarmes on static guard. “

Arrived in New Caledonia after the referendum on independence of October 4, he is subject to severe confinement. In accordance with local health regulations, he must remain in isolation for two long weeks. The Caledonian authorities are not kidding: they want the archipelago to remain spared by the Covid-19. A policy that has had serious repercussions on tourism. So the High Commission for the Republic in New Caledonia, representing the State, made this building located at the end of its park available to the Minister. “I submit to the protocol, underlines Sébastien Lecornu. There is no question that I have a privilege. “

Twice a day, a nurse from the army service takes her temperature and that of the other four people in her delegation. A colonel doctor also passes by. Cleaning, laundry and cooking: it’s the work of the confined. That we are far from the Parisian palaces. Food is placed at the entrance in disposable trays. On the menu: Tahitian salad, grilled fish, guacamole. Waste is collected once a week. The High Commission has stored a few bottles of French and Australian wine in the cupboards to help the occupants wait.

He will have to undergo a PCR test

“I take this opportunity to move forward on my files and call interlocutors in Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, taking advantage of more favorable time zones. He also mobilizes his teams in Paris, which he calls upon from 11 pm. Time difference requires. There is one circumstance which however allows the elected representative of the Eure to temporarily leave the premises: the meetings of the executive. During ministerial and defense councils, he is taken by a gendarme to a cramped room equipped with encrypted communication devices. On the course, he must not meet anyone.

To get out of his fortnight for good, Sébastien Lecornu will have to undergo a PCR test. He can then begin the tour of local and customary authorities. It is a question of taking the pulse of the Caillou, whereas independence has just been rejected quite a bit and the thorny question of the third referendum, provided for by the Nouméa agreements, arises. The French State will be responsible for organizing it, if the Congress of New Caledonia so requests. An explosive file, as the electoral gap has narrowed between loyalists and supporters of independence. Not sure that Paris is pushing to organize this election before the presidential election. Too risky. No one has forgotten the events of the in-between rounds in 1988 with the bloody hostage-taking in Ouvéa cave. A reason that was worth staying locked up for two weeks under the coconut trees.

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