6 Aug 2004

New Caledonia government to discuss population census

9:15 am on 6 August 2004

The government of New Caledonia is set to meet within the next 24 hours to discuss the forthcoming population census.

The census was postponed last year after the French President Jacques Chirac said it was irresponsible and illegal to include questions about ethnic origin.

The census has been rescheduled for three weeks time without reference to ethnicity.

There are now calls by the Uni-FLNKS Party and the Union of Kanak and Exploited Workers to boycott it unless a question on ethnicity is included.

And, as our correspondent, Tuo Chinula explains, the government is split on the issue:

"The Rassemblement, they're quite happy about it but other parties like the Avenir Ensemble, the Future Together Party, they don't agree because they want to respect the development of the country which obviously takes into account the Noumea Accord. They agree with the pro-independence parties that this question is essential for the census."