7 Feb 2006

French lawmakers to decide on New Caledonia franchise

11:25 am on 7 February 2006

A special meeting of both houses of parliament in France is to make a decision in the coming weeks on a proposed change to the French constitution to determine who can vote in New Caledonia.

The moves come after a follow-up meeting in Paris of the parties to the Noumea Accord on greater autonomy.

The 1998 treaty outlines a gradual transfer of powers from metropolitan France to New Caledonia, and a possible referendum on independence as soon as 2013.

The provision of a frozen electoral roll is intended to assure the indigenous Kanaks that they won't be overwhelmed by a sudden influx of voters coming from metropolitan France in the next major election, in 2009.