5 Dec 2017

French PM outlines path to New Caledonian referendum

3:08 pm on 5 December 2017

The French prime minister Edouard Philippe has outlined the path to next year's independence referendum in a wide-ranging speech to New Caledonia's Congress.

Edouard Philippe  in New Caledonia.

Edouard Philippe in New Caledonia. Photo: AFP

Mr Philippe has spoken of the method he would like to apply to arrive at the vote which he stressed will take place by November next year.

He wanted to have a stock-take of what had been achieved and define the common values as well as New Caledonia's position in the region and world, which he said had been subject to rapid change.

Mr Philippe said he would like to work with a small group of leaders to deepen the dialogue and then convene the signatories to the Noumea Accord in the first half of March for further talks.

He says it was vital that the referendum was credible and its outcome accepted.

To this end as many people as possible needed to be encouraged to register and vote.

Mr Philippe said the referendum question had to be clear and in keeping with international norms.

He also suggested that a council be established to monitor campaigning to convey wisdom and prevent an atmosphere of hurt.

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