15 Jan 2018

French Senate to discuss changes to New Caledonia electoral rolls

9:50 am on 15 January 2018

The French Senate will within a month discuss the proposed law change to accommodate new, but restricted electoral rolls for New Caledonia needed for the referendum.

no caption

Photo: AFP

This was announced in Noumea by the head of the Senate law commission Philippe Bas at the end of a Senate delegation's visit aimed at consulting local politicians.

The law will translate the political accord reached by the signatories to the Noumea Accord late last year which clears the way to enrolling all people born in New Caledonia if they have lived there for the past three years.

The deal also provides for the automatic enrollment of an additional 7000 indigenous Kanaks who have customary status.

A total of about 158,000 people are eligible to vote, however excluding citizens who have arrived in New Caledonia after 1998.

Mr Bas said this new law could be an element in building New Caledonia's common destiny.

The exact referendum question was yet to be worded but the Noumea Accord, which expires this year, provides for a plebiscite on whether the territory wants to attain full sovereignty.

The referendum has to be held by November, with dates in October suggested so far.

As part of the lead-up to the referendum, the French prime minister Edouard Philippe visited New Caledonia last month and the French president Edouard Macron is due in May.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs