26 Jun 2018

New Caledonia referendum preparations going well - UN

8:51 am on 26 June 2018

The United Nations says while preparations for New Caledonia's independence referendum are progressing well, the situation remains uncertain and fragile.

Kanak and French flags on Ouvea island.

Photo: AFP

The findings are in a report compiled by UN experts who on behest of the French government visited the territory in the first months of this year.

It said the political parties which had signed the Noumea Accord have shown good faith and a strong political will.

The report said the preparation of the restricted electoral roll had improved and is broadly accepted as it remains imperative for the referendum to be equitable and transparent for all sides.

However, it said many New Caledonians were apprehensive because of a lack of explanations of the vote's implications.

It goes on to say the split over the independence issue has marked the political debate for 40 years, which doesn't exclude further political trouble.

While some economic imbalances have in part been alleviated, the report notes, poorly disguised racial discrimination against mainly indigenous Kanaks persists.

Later this week, the French prime minister Edouard Philippe is again due host a group of New Caledonia's leaders to discuss the referendum's aftermath.

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