31 Jul 2020

Kanaks want extension for New Caledonia referendum registration

7:12 am on 31 July 2020

Kanak groups in New Caledonia have called for voter registration in Noumea for the October referendum on independence to be extended.

In June, the French High Commission opened an office for voters from the Isle of Pines, Belep and the Loyalty Islands to register in Noumea.

The option was meant to make it easier than voting by proxy.

The FLNKS flag widely used in New Caledonia

The FLNKS flag widely used in New Caledonia Photo: RNZ Walter Zweifel

The office closed on 17 July, but outer island Kanaks said there were still about 5,000 voters who, for various reasons, hadn't been able to register.

Several hundred people marched to the High Commission this week, asking for the registration period to be extended to 20 September for the plebiscite set down for 4 October.

The electoral roll, which has been the subject of prolonged controversy, is made up of indigenous Kanaks and includes only those non-Kanaks who have lived in New Caledonia continuously since 1994.

Initially set for 6 September, the French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe postponed the referendum until 4 October because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the first of three possible referendums in 2018, just under 57 percent voted for the status quo.

Should voters again reject independence this year, another referendum could be called by New Caledonia's Congress within two years.

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