3 Feb 2006

France orders constitutional review over New Caledonia voting rights

9:24 am on 3 February 2006

The French overseas territories minister, Francois Baroin, has ordered a constitutional review over whether French settlers in New Caledonia have the right to vote in elections there.

Mr Baroin was speaking after a meeting in Paris of parties to the Noumea Accord on greater autonomy.

The review will be examined by all stages of both houses of parliament in France.

Politicians in New Caledonia have been sharply divided over the question of freezing the electorate for the provincial elections in 2009.

The two sides disagree on the significance of the wording of the 1998 Noumea Accord.

In July 2003, the visiting French president Jacques Chirac promised to solve the issue before his term runs out in 2007.