19 Feb 2018

French parliamentary team visits New Caledonia

2:44 pm on 19 February 2018

A French parliamentary team is today beginning a week-long mission to New Caledonia to gather information about the independence referendum later this year.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

Former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls Photo: AFP

The team, which is led by a former Socialist prime minister Manuel Valls, is due to meet a cross section of personalities as well as take part in a public discussion about the referendum.

The group from the National Assembly will also visit the local prison and the Koniambo nickel plant in the territory's north.

The visit coincides with tomorrow's formal vote in the French Senate approving changes to the electoral law which extended the restricted roll for the plebiscite by adding another 11,000 voters.

The referendum question and the referendum date are yet to be decided.

A working group, made of local politicians, has been in regular talks with the French High Commissioner to prepare the referendum's aftermath.

A source has told AFP that they have been unable to overcome the split between pro- and anti-independence positions and as yet no common position has emerged.

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