5 Oct 2006

Palika wants timetable from France on New Caledonia promise

2:36 pm on 5 October 2006

The pro-independence Palika Party in New Caledonia has demanded that France give a timetable for a planned change to the constitution.

The 1998 Noumea accord on greater autonomy provides for changes to the eligibility of voters in the territory but the anti-independence signatories of the accord have challenged the provision.

The Palika Party says the French government should declare officially its determination to institute the change and provide a timetable to that effect.

This follows indications that the text won't be ready this year and a comment by a leading French parliamentarian who said there were better things to do than change such a type of text.

In 2003, the French president, Jacques Chirac, told New Caledonians that the matter would be resolved before the end of his term in 2007.

This was confirmed this year by the overseas territories minister, Francois Baroin, who said there would be a freeze of the electorate as agreed with the Kanak parties.

A Palika statement says if the change is not made, it can undermine the fragile balance of the Noumea Accord.