17 Oct 2017

New Caledonia electoral roll delay 'paradoxical'

5:26 pm on 17 October 2017

A law professor in New Caledonia says it is paradoxical to be preparing a vote of self-determination since 1999 and to agree on the electoral roll only in the last months before next year's plebiscite.

Mathias Chauchat

Mathias Chauchat Photo: Calédosphère

Mathias Chauchat, who teaches public law at the University of New Caledonia, said hopes were now pinned on talks in Paris in early November to finalise the roll.

The signatories to the 1998 Noumea Accord are still divided over who should be allowed on the roll which under the Accord is restricted to long-term residents.

Anti-independence politicians want all people born in New Caledonia to be inscribed while the pro-independence side wants Kanaks to be automatically enrolled without first being on the general roll.

Almost 23,000 Kanaks aren't enrolled out of a total of 92,000 adults.

Professor Chauchat said while this was not illegal, the number was inadequate for a decolonisation vote which mainly affected the indigenous people.

A first independence referendum was held in 1987 but the indigenous people boycotted it, with more than 98 percent of voters rejecting independence.