15 Nov 2006

New Caledonia's anti-independence leader still against electoral amendment

8:09 pm on 15 November 2006

The leader of New Caledonia's anti-independence Rassemblement-UMP Party, Pierre Frogier, says he'll fight to the end in his bid to avoid changes to the electoral eligibility criteria in the territory.

Mr Frogier wants citizen to be given voting rights after they have been in New Caledonia for ten years, but the Kanaks say the 1998 Noumea accord restricts voting in provincial elections to those who were on the 1998 roll.

He now claims the freeze is not in line with the intentions of the accord but in 1998, the pro-independence movement only signed the accord after a freeze of the electorate was approved, pending a change to the constitution.

The matter has seen a challenge in the constitutional court, prompting President Jacques Chirac to promise in 2003 that a solution to the dispute would be found by the time his term ends next year.

Mr Frogier says the President wanted a consensus to be found but that hasn't happened.

A constitutional amendment is to be discussed in the two French legislative bodies in December and January.