19 Mar 2018

New Caledonia set to approve date for independence referendum

6:29 am on 19 March 2018

New Caledonia's Congress is today expected to approve the date for the territory's independence referendum under the Noumea Accord.

The New Caledonia congress.

The New Caledonia congress. Photo: AFP

There were 10 selected top political leaders who had agreed in French-sponsored talks last month to hold the vote on 4th November.

The 1998 Noumea Accord decolonisation roadmap has provided for a gradual and irreversible transfer of power and expires with a vote on whether to assume full sovereignty.

The vote has been possible since 2014 but the Congress is only now seizing its right to set a date, which has to be this year.

The exact wording of the referendum question has yet to be decided and voting would be restricted to long-term residents.

In the last independence referendum in 1987, 98 percent voted to stay with France.

However the pro-independence movement had called for a boycott.