2 May 2018

Return of New Caledonia colonisation deed puzzles

10:20 am on 2 May 2018

There has been a mixed response to the news that the French president Emmanuel Macron is to return the original deed with which France took possession of New Caledonia in 1853.

France's President Emmanuel Macron.

France's President Emmanuel Macron. Photo: AFP or licensors

The document, which was signed by Admiral Auguste Fébvrier-Despointes on behalf of Napoleon III, will be brought to Noumea by Mr Macron.

He is due in Noumea tomorrow for a three-day official visit which comes half a year before the territory's vote on independence from France.

Anti-independence politicians question the timing for this document being brought from the archive in France, suggesting that it ties into an official programme that appears to be against the majority who want to stay with France.

A pro-independence leader Roch Wamytan has told local television that he was not advised about the president's plan and its meaning but assumes that by handing over the document he also returns New Caledonia's independence.

Mr Macron's itinerary also includes a visit on Saturday of the grave of 19 Kanaks killed in the 1988 Ouvea hostage crisis but a local tribe is strongly opposed to it, saying it would be a provocation.

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