26 Oct 2016

Kanak rally over New Caledonia roll

12:40 pm on 26 October 2016

A rally has been called by some of New Caledonia's indigenous Kanaks today to denounce what they call electoral fraud committed by the French state.

The rally is to demand that all Kanaks be automatically inscribed on the electoral roll of those eligible to vote in the 2018 referendum on possible independence from France.

Supporters of New Caledonia's USTKE union

New Caledonia's USTKE union has called a rally to demand Kanaks be added to the electoral roll to vote in the 2017 referendum on independence. Photo: AFP

The authorities said Kanaks must be on the general roll but the Kanaks said that being Kanak is sufficient to be eligible to vote.

An estimated 25,000 Kanaks are not registered, prompting concern that about a quarter of the indigenous voters could miss out on the poll which is restricted to long-term residents.

In a statement, the USTKE union said this push is part of the indigenous Kanaks' struggle to attain full sovereignty while a fraudulent process was being used to sideline the Kanaks in their own country.

The protest is planned territory-wide with the main event being a march to the French High Commission in Noumea.

The make-up of the roll has been a contentious issue for years.

France has promised to hold a referendum by 2018 to complete the terms of the 1998 Noumea Accord which provides for a phased and irreversible transfer of power from France to New Caledonia.

The Accord signatories are due to meet in Paris in less than two weeks.

The anti-independence Rassemblement said it is opposed to a referendum as a vote would be destructive.

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