4 May 2019

Call for another New Caledonia referendum in early 2020

12:13 pm on 4 May 2019

One of the main anti-independence party coalitions in New Caledonia says it wants to have the next referendum on independence from France to be held within less than a year.

Ballot box used for New Caledonia's independence referendum

Ballot box used for New Caledonia's independence referendum Photo: RNZ Walter Zweifel

The call was made by the group Future with Confidence which includes the Caledonian Republicans and the Republicans - both offshoots of France's centre-right parties.

The proposal was reiterated as the election campaign is about to enter its last week before the election of three new provincial assemblies, out of which the next Congress will be formed for a five-year term.

Future with Confidence holds 14 of the 54 seats in the outgoing Congress but at least 18 backers will be needed in the next Congress for it to be able to trigger a fresh referendum.

The pro-independence parties said after losing in last year's referendum that they would seek a fresh plebiscite but according to Future Together, the pro-independence parties want to hold off for at least another half a year.

Sonia Backes of the Caledonian Republicans says a vote soon will be to her camp's advantage because most of those who abstained in the November referendum are against independence.

The other main anti-independence party, Caledonia Together, is opposed to holding more referendums asking the same question and wants to forge a deal acceptable to all sides.

But Future with Confidence says the only way to avoid referendums would entail accepting independence in association with France, something which it says is too high a price to pay.

Just under 57 percent voted for the status quo in the November referendum.

Under the Noumea Accord two more votes are possible to complete the decolonisation of New Caledonia.

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