12 May 2005

USTKE claims success for New Caledonia's Kanak recognition

7:20 pm on 12 May 2005

The Union of Kanak and Exploited Workers says it has won the first battle in its struggle for the recognition of the Kanak people in New Caledonia.

The government plans to carry out an ethnic survey after its national census was widely boycotted in september.

Around 50,000 people, or a sixth of the population, refused to take part because there were no questions on ethnic origin.

Meanwhile some French residents have formed an association claiming that they are being treated as second class citizens because of affirmative action towards the Kanak people.

The executive member of USTKE, Pierre Chauvat, says if they objected to the situation, they should not have come.

"We didn't force the French people to come to New Caledonia and so they came to New Caledonia knowing what will happen to their destiny and future. We have to build the country first with the people that were born there, with the Kanak first, and the New Caledonian white people that were born there and then we'll consider others."

The executive member of USTKE, Pierre Chauvat