18 Jan 2007

French senate passes bill that could restrict voters in New Caledonia

7:01 pm on 18 January 2007

A constitutional amendment is one step closer after the French senate passed a bill that might restrict voter eligibility in New Caledonia.

The bill was backed by 296 of the 361 senators attending in Paris and will be tabled in the French parliament in February.

The controversial bill proposes to amend the constitution and allow New Caledonia to restrict voting rights to citizens who were residing there before 1998.

Our correspondent in Noumea, Tuo Chinula, says the result was predictable.

"The senate's vote isn't surprising. People were expecting that and it obviously follows the vote by the National Assembly in December. The next vote will be when the parliament meets, so the National Assembly and the senate will come together and discuss that in February. The expectation is that they will approve of it as well."

Tuo Chinula says pro-independentists in New Caledonia are particularly happy with the result, unlike the seven thousand or so French citizens who might not be eligible to vote in the future.