6 Sep 2005

New Caledonia minister accused of reneging on autonomy concessions

3:40 pm on 6 September 2005

New Caledonia's foreign minister, Pierre Frogier, is being accused of going back on his word, in saying he won't allow restrictions on the electoral roll.

Mr Frogier says his UMP party is against any freezing of the electorate in a referendum on independence from France.

But Mr Frogier's party signed up to the Noumea Accord in 1998, which states only those who have lived in New Caledonia for a certain period of time will be able to vote in elections there.

The Kanak rights activist, Jacques Boengkih, says Mr Frogier's new stance may stoke instability.

"I think Mr Frogier's playing with fire, because in 1998, he was part of those people who signed the Noumea Accord, in which it was, they agreed on having a fixed electoral roll... and now he's talking about allowing all these new migrants to vote in all the New Caledonian institutions."

Mr Boengkih says it's not only Kanaks whose rights are being eroded but all New Caledonia's population because the territory's on the UN list of areas to be decolonised.