10 Apr 2015

New Caledonia plans pro-French rally

3:10 pm on 10 April 2015

The anti-independence camp in New Caledonia has called for a demonstration on April 29th to show that most people want to stay French.

The call comes in response to a French government decision to approve a law defining the electoral roll for the independence referendum due by 2018.

The wording has angered the loyalists as the law provides for an electoral roll which automatically includes only indigenous Kanaks and those people registered in 1998.

Sonia Backes of the anti-independence Union for Caledonia within France says this amounts to a denial of democracy because thousands of people born in the territory will now have to re-enroll.

The group says the demonstration will show to the French state and the pro-independence side that most people want to remain French.

Another group, the Front For Unity, says the behaviour of the Socialist government is a veritable declaration of a political war.

The French prime minister, Manuel Valls, has however rejected the loyalists' criticism, saying the eligibility of prospective voters has been determined by France's highest court.

But Ms Backes says the Socialist government is hiding behind legal arguments and is favouring the pro-independence side.