28 Dec 2017

Committee of elders to guide debate in New Caledonia

1:17 pm on 28 December 2017

A committee of elders has been appointed in New Caledonia to help guide the debate leading up to next year's independence referendum.

The French prime minister Edouard Philippe suggested forming such a body at the start of the month during his four-day official visit to New Caledonia.

The French High Commissioner said its 12 members are well-known personalities and they've already held a first meeting.

The committee includes the widow of the pro-independence leader Jean-Marie Tjibaou, Marie-Claude Tjibaou, as well as the head of the Human Rights League, Elie Poigoune.

The group is to watch over the language used during the campaign so as to avoid harm and tension in a society that values the spoken word.

Its workings are yet to be finalised but the committee is expected to be approached for its views while also having a right to intervene.

 Edouard Philippe in New Caledonia.

Edouard Philippe in New Caledonia. Photo: AFP