11 Apr 2014

Televised New Caledonia election debate cancelled

3:20 pm on 11 April 2014

A planned televised debate in New Caledonia over the electoral roll controversy has deen cancelled at the last minute after an apparent disagreement over who should take part.

The debate was to cover the legal wrangle over who is allowed to vote in next month's provincial elections, with the pro-independence side insisting that more than 6,700 voters be struck off.

There has been a radio debate on the subject earlier this week, which found a strong echo on social media.

Voting will be restricted to long-term residents in line with the decolonisation process which, after the election, opens the way for a possible independence referendum.

While the FLNKS side insists that the rules exclude those voters who failed to be registered by 1998, the loyalist camp says taking these challenges to court risks to undo the 25 years of peace the territory has enjoyed.

A tribunal has this week vetted thousands of complaints but its verdict is not known.

It is expected that some decisions will be appealed in France's highest court.

The election is expected to go ahead as planned but its result may be contested.