Appeal from Fort-de-France: received at the Élysée, elected officials assured of a “starting point” for profound change

Appeal from Fort-de-France: received at the Élysée, elected officials assured of a "starting point" for profound change

The signatories of the Fort-de-France appeal were received at the Elysée by Emmanuel Macron, but also Place Beauvau by Gérald Darmanin, Minister of the Interior and Overseas. An agenda must be put in place to work on all the issues of the Overseas Territories and overhaul a system considered outdated.

three dates and “a starting point” for the profound change demanded in the appeal of Fort-de-France. After an hour of discussion with Gérald Darmanin, Minister of the Interior and Overseas Territories, the seven signatories were received for 45 minutes by the President of the Republic, before moving on to a working dinner to which were also invited parliamentarians and prefects of overseas territories, as well as the Prime Minister and the Minister Delegate for Overseas Territories, Jean-François Carenco.

Last May, the presidents of the regions of Guadeloupe, Réunion, Mayotte, Martinique, Saint-Martin and Guyana asked to meet the president to discuss“a profound change in policy” aid for the development of their poverty-stricken territories.

“I am very pleasantly surprised by the openness”admitted Serge Letchimy, president of the executive council of Martinique, at the exit of the Élysée on Wednesday evening. “We are very satisfied, because we wanted to be received by the President of the Republic and it’s done”rejoiced the president of the general council of Guadeloupe Ary Chalus.

Five months after their solemn appeal, the signatories hesitated to accept the presidential invitation, unconvinced by the proposed format. “The executive’s method is unsuited to the emergencies of our territories”estimated Guyanese MP Davy Rimane, who declined the invitation, as did his colleague from the 1st constituency of Guyana, Jean-Victor Castor, and Reunion MP Karine Le Bon.

Meeting on Tuesday evening in Paris, the signatories of the Fort-de-France appeal finally obtained an exchange with the President of the Republic, who “served to set the course for extremely profound change in the relationship between overseas countries and government.”

The call of Fort-de-France lives. We put politics back at the heart of the debate. Now, we must translate this call into extremely concrete things.

Serge Letchimy, President of the Executive Council of Martinique

Cost of living, economic development, environment, education, security… “The door is open for an agenda” work on these themes, “but also and above all, on the issue of institutional and statutory developments”.

The government must indeed look into a possible constitutional reform from 2023, linked in particular to the institutional future of New Caledonia, which has reached the end of the process set up by the Matignon and Nouméa agreements. “I have no taboos on institutional developments”assured the President of the Republic to elected overseas representatives.

The current model is saturated. If we want to restore our population’s confidence, encourage them and get them back to the polls, we have to do some work on the ground in our respective territories and I think that tonight is a good start.

Ary Chalus, President of the General Council of Guadeloupe

“Today, we are simply asking for a strong position (…) which will allow the Overseas territories to feel less forgotten”, recalled the president of the assembly of Guyana, Gabriel Serville. The Congress of Guyana has already begun to work on the statutory evolution of the territory. “We are well on the way to accountability and dialogue, which should allow us to achieve the result we hope for.”

On the side of Saint-Martin, the president of the territorial council, Louis Mussington, explains that he insisted on the need to review the organic law but also on the question of poverty on his island, devastated by hurricane Irma there is just five years, in September 2017.

“We ask that a Mahoran specificity be recognized and that public policies be adapted to these needs of our territory”for his part expressed Ben Issa Ousseni, president of the departmental council of Mayotte. “Mayotte is not Martinique, it is not Guadeloupe, but it is not a classic metropolitan department either.” The former senator, unsatisfied with the meeting format this Wednesday, proposed a second time of exchange with Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the congress of the regions of France, on September 15 and 16.

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