3 Sep 2020

French state again accused of being partial ahead of New Caledonia referendum

1:22 pm on 3 September 2020

New Caledonia's pro-independence UNI party has again accused the French state of being partial in the run-up to next month's referendum on independence from France.

Kanak and French flags on Ouvea island.

Kanak and French flags on Ouvea island. Photo: AFP

The party reacted to its unsuccessful challenge in France's highest administrative court where it tried to stop the rival side from using the French flag in the referendum campaign.

The party said the French flag was a symbol for all French people, including those wanting independence.

By law, French political parties are not allowed to use the tricolore in their material as not to convey the notion that they represent the state.

However in this case, the court dismissed the concern that voters would be confused.

The use of the FLNKS or Kanak flag is also allowed.

Paris, which organises the referendum on 4 October, said it was impartial.

In the previous referendum, in 2018, just under 57 percent voted for the status quo.

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

New Caledonia was reinscribed on the UN decolonisation list in 1986.