24 Nov 2017

New Caledonian plan approved for independence vote

8:19 am on 24 November 2017
The New Caledonia congress.

The New Caledonia congress. Photo: AFP

New Caledonia's Congress has formally approved a plan to change the law on voter eligibility for next year's independence referendum.

This follows a political agreement reached between the rival pro- and anti-independence sides in Paris at the start of November, defining the restricted roll for the plebiscite.

Voters will have to be either indigenous Kanaks, French residents since 1994 or if they were born in New Caledonia have to have lived there for three years while having their material and moral interests there.

An overwhelming Congress majority approved the deal which will add another 11,000 names to the roll, bringing its total to 158,000.

The government is now tasked with formulating the law to put the agreement into effect.

A pro-independence politician Roch Wamytan said 26 hours of debates in Paris and Noumea had been spent on what he described as a horribly complicated problem.

Last weekend, the Labour Party spoke out against the deal, saying it left out about 12,000 for whom the authorities say they have no address.