Retired from political life since 2014 after 28 years at the head of the Caledonian capital, Jean Lèques was also the first president of the collegial government resulting from the Nouméa agreement, from May 1999 to March 2001. Signatory of this agreement, which organizes the decolonization of New Caledonia in stages, Jean Lèques is a figure in New Caledonian political life in which he was involved at the dawn of the 1970s. A man of dialogue, he had also signed the Matignon agreements, which brought peace to the archipelago in 1988.
Elected for the first time in 1967 to the Territorial Assembly, he was re-elected in this institution, renamed Congress in 1989, without interruption until 2009. Fervent Catholic, this democrat, Christian, had first campaigned for the Union Calédonienne (UC), progressive and multiracial, before joining the ranks of the Rassemblement pour la Calédonie dans la République (RPCR of Jacques Lafleur affiliated to the RPR) in 1978 when the UC took up the cause of the independence of New Caledonia .
One of his last political commitments was the presidency of a Committee of Elders, set up by former Prime Minister Édouard Philippe, to ensure that the campaign for the first referendum on independence in 2018 ran smoothly. committee also officiated during the referendums of 2020 and 2021. If it is now chaired by Jean-Pierre Flotat, Jean Lèques was still honorary president of this committee whose mission was to watch over the referendum campaigns.
Born on August 31, 1931 in the Vallée du Tir district of Nouméa, which he never left, Jean Lèques, nicknamed “Fifils” by all Caledonians, came from a family present on the Caillou since the end of the 19th century. After studying law in France, this American history buff had opened a notary’s office in Noumea. Honorary mayor of Nouméa since 2014, Jean Lèques had been elevated to the rank of Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor by the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron, who had given him this decoration in May 2018 during a trip to Nouméa.
” The departure of Jean Lèques is a loss for New Caledonia at a time when it will have to define a new future. His sense of values, his humanist reflection and his vision of understanding and fraternity will be missed. wrote the South Caledonian province on its Facebook page. Jean Lèques had also been President of the Council of the South Region, former South Province. Its current president Sonia Backès hailed the ” pioneer », « Caledonian at heart », « always present in our lives “. ” Everyone will remember his presence in the streets of Noumea every Saturday, where he listened to the hearts of Noumeans, their small or big worries. “.
” Jean Lèques was totally invested in the city of Noumea during his 29 years in office underlined his successor at the head of the Caledonian capital, Sonia Lagarde, who gave him his title of honorary mayor of the city. ” We salute with the greatest respect the commitment that has been his all these years in the service of his city and the people of Noumea. “. For his part, Thierry Santa, at the head of the party inherited from Jacques Lafleur, confided his ” immense sadness ” in the face of the loss of ” a living memory of the history of Caledonia”. Having become Le Rassemblement-LR, Jean Lèques was still honorary president of the historic party of the Caledonian non-independence right.
The political party which saw the birth of the political career of Jean Lèques, the UC, hailed ” his contribution to the political life of our country. Highlighting a Australia’s great friend “, the Australian consul general in New Caledonia recalled” its commitment against violence against women » or even the « twinning between Nouméa and Gold Coast in 1992 “. ” We will remember a generous man of his time, always ready to share his unfailing knowledge of Caledonian history – particularly of the Second World War – and sensitive to humanist values. “, adds the Consulate General of Australia.
” Jean Lèques left his mark on the history of New Caledonia wrote the High Commissioner of the Republic in New Caledonia, Patrice Faure. “ He has also continuously honored his commitments alongside the fighting world and within the Committee of Elders he adds. ” A great and high Caledonian figure has left us ” reacted early this Thursday morning Sébastien Lecornu, former Minister of Overseas, today Minister of the Armed Forces, expressing “ great sadness “.