1 Jun 2015

New Caledonia leaders bound for Paris

8:07 am on 1 June 2015

New Caledonian leaders are due in Paris this week for talks with the French prime minister, Manuel Valls, in a bid to resolve the dispute over who is allowed to vote in New Caledonai's independence referendum.

The vote is due by 2018 but there are strong disagreements on the proposed make-up of the roll which is to be debated and approved by the French Senate this month.

French prime minister Manuel Valls

French prime minister Manuel Valls Photo: AFP

The bill only provides automatic registration to indigenous people and those who voted in the 1998 Noumea Accord referendum.

The anti-indepedence side is strongly opposed to these terms, with a top politician, Pierre Frogier, accusing the French government of spreading hate and discord in the territory.

In April, a mass anti-independence rally was held in Noumea, with the loyalists accusing the French government of supporting the pro-independence side.

The protest and the discord prompted Paris to convene the special meeting of the signatories of the Noumea Accord this week to unblock the situation.

Carvings in New Caledonia

Carvings in New Caledonia Photo: AFP

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