18 Aug 2012

Call for referendum over New Caledonia's name

6:40 am on 18 August 2012

New Caledonia's president, Harold Martin, says a referendum should be held to determine the territory's name.

Mr Martin made the suggestion in an interview with the local daily newspaper following an uproar over a recent reference to the territory as Kanaky.

He says such a choice should be made before 2014 when the Noumea Accord on greater autonomy enters its final phase with a possible independence referendum.

Last month, the French overseas territories minister, Victorin Lurel, spoke about New Caledonia Kanaky after meeting a pro-independence provincial president in Paris.

The description outraged anti-independence politicians.

The Rassemblement-UMP described this as a provocation, Mr Martin's Future Together Party said it was scandalous while the Caledonia Together Party said the minister trampled on New Caledonia's sovereignty.

Mr Lurel says his use of the name Kanaky is a storm in a teacup, adding that the Noumea Accord speaks of the Kanak identity.