21 Feb 2014

Paris committed to reviewing New Caledonia electoral rolls

4:33 pm on 21 February 2014

The French government says it is committed to a transparent process for this May's provincial elections in New Caledonia amid calls for thousands of voters to be struck off the rolls.

The issue has been raised by the president of New Caledonia's Congress, Roch Wamytan of the pro-independence FLNKS movement in talks in Paris with the French prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault.

Mr Wamytan says Paris will send a team of 10 magistrates to Noumea next week to examine the electoral rolls, which have been restricted to long-term residents in line with a constitutional amendment.

Mr Wamytan has demanded that more than 6,700 voters be removed while a leading anti-independence politician, Pierre Frogier, says his side has identified 4,000 Kanaks who should equally be struck off.

Mr Frogier has written to the French prime minister, saying a consensus needs to be reached or else the election may need to be put off.

Mr Wamytan also says there has been cheating as almost 2,000 young Kanaks are not on the roll, adding that the entire process will be examined by a UN delegation.

This has prompted the leader of France's National Front, Marine Le Pen, to denounce what she calls UN interference, saying French consent marks the gradual abandonment of French land.

The provincial assemblies will determine the make-up of the next Congress which can organise an independence referendum.