The French prime minister, Manuel Valls, says the government will strictly adhere to the French supreme court ruling on the eligibility of voters in New Caledonia.
The court ruled that those eligible to vote in the territory's provincial elections must have been enrolled since 1998 or submit proof that they lived in the territory since 1988.
This has incensed the anti-independence parties which are strongly opposed to such an interpretation of the law, saying a judicial decision should not be allowed to overrule political considerations.
But Mr Valls says the court decision has stabilised matters and it cannot revisit the interpretation of the constitution.
He says it is not a purely technical view on part of the government or a manoeuvre but the normal application of a ruling of the court of last resort in a country with the rule of law.
Mr Valls says there are no grounds to attack the government and accuse it of doing an about face.
This comes after his predecessor last year gave a looser interpretation of the rules before the court ruling was out.