10 Dec 2018

New Caledonia anti-independence parties form united front

6:35 am on 10 December 2018

Three anti-independence parties in New Caledonia have formed a united front for this Friday's talks in Paris of the signatories to the Noumea Accord.

Kanak and French flags on Ouvea island.

Photo: AFP

The meeting is to be chaired by the French prime minister Edouard Philippe and follows last month's independence referendum in which 56 percent voted for the status quo.

The three parties - the Rassemblement, the MPC and the Caledonian Republicans - said they were opposed to any more concessions being made to the pro-independence camp.

They want Paris to change the French constitution in order to allow more French settlers to be inscribed on the roll for provincial elections as concern is mounting that a united pro-independence side could for the first time win a majority in Congress.

The three also want a check on the internal migration of voters, reflecting suspicions that Kanak voters could bolster their numbers in the mainly anti-independence south.

They also want to discuss measures to improve the economy.

The pro-independence side is against undoing any provisions of the Noumea Accord, which restricts voting rights to people living in New Caledonia since at least 1998.

It said this was also in line with last month's comment by Mr Philippe that the Accord will only be changed if there is a broad consensus to do so.

The Accord also allows for the new Congress, which will be elected in May, to ask for another independence referendum.

The anti-independence camp is against such a vote, with one party saying it will produce the same result.

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