17 Jan 2007

French Senators pass New Caledonia’s controversial voter eligibility Bill

1:07 pm on 17 January 2007

France's Senate has passed a controversial Constitutional Amendment bill which will eventually restrict voters eligibility in New Caledonia.

The Bill was endorsed with the support of 296 of the 361 Senators in attendance in Paris.

13 voted against, including New Caledonia's Senator Simon Louekhote, who had earlier tabled an amendment against the Bill.

The issue is a highly sensitive one in New Caledonia, as it proposes to amend the French constitution in order to allow New Caledonia to restrict future votes to only citizens who have been residing there since 1998.

November 8, 1998 was the date of a referendum held in New Caledonia, which officially endorsed the Nouméa Accord.

The accord's provisions pertaining to voter eligibility have been subject to ongoing controversy on its interpretations.

Out of an estimated population of some 230,000, this measure would affect about seven thousand French voters.

The measure only concerns local polls - for the three provincial councils - with effect from 2009, but not French national polls such as general and Presidential elections.