24 Sep 2009

New Caledonian citizenship day celebrated in Noumea

6:16 pm on 24 September 2009

A celebration has been held in central Noumea to mark citizenship day as part of New Caledonia's decolonisation process.

The event was attended by President Philippe Gomes and Paul Neaoutyine, who is the president of the mainly Kanak northern province.

September the 24th used to mark the day in 1853 when France took over the territory but since 2005, the day is observed to recognise the emergence of a New Caledonian citizenship as outlined in the 1998 Noumea Accord on greater autonomy.

The event was ignored by the anti-independence Rassemblement-UMP which instead held what it called a Republican picnic in a Noumea suburb.

The party is opposed to the constitutionally mandated restrictions of voting rights to those who have lived in New Caledonia at least ten years.

The process provides for a possible independence referendum after 2014.