15 Nov 2002

New Caledonia's Palika warns of instability over electorate definition

10:56 am on 15 November 2002

The pro-independence Palika party in New Caledonia has warned the French government of the risks of instability and a political crisis if nothing is done to decide the make-up of the New Caledonian electorate.

A Palika spokesman, Charles Washetine, says the issue is central to the 1998 Noumea accord on greater autonomy but its provision is yet to be determined.

The Kanak negotiators have sought to restrict voting rights in a future referndum on independence to those eligible to vote in the 1998 vote.

But the constitutional council in France has sought to broaden the electorate to include those who have lived in the territory for at least ten years.

The Palika leadership has now written to the minister in charge of overseas territories, reminding her of the commitments made by the French president and prime minister Lionel Jospin to restrict the electorate.