8 May 2004

New Caledonia holds provincial elections

9:38 am on 8 May 2004

Voters will go to the polls in New Caledonia on Sunday, May 9, to elect three new provincial assemblies which will form the basis for a new, 54-member, territorial congress.

Candidates on 31 lists are standing, in line with the new French law mandating gender parity.

Observers say the large number of lists reflects disunity, within the traditional main blocs of pro- and anti-independence parties.

This will be the second election, since the 1998 signing of the Noumea Accord on greater autonomy, which is to lead to a referendum on independence.

The Noumea agreement stipulates that a collegial government be then formed in proportion to the make-up of the Congress.

The accord restricts voting to long-term residents, which means that more than 10-thousand adults are excluded from the polls.

The first results are expected on Sunday evening, with a final tally due before midnight.