14 Jun 2021

New Caledonia gets new French High Commissioner

2:08 pm on 14 June 2021

France's new High Commissioner to New Caledonia Patrice Faure plans to meet Congress members from today to draw up an agenda in the lead-up to the next independence referendum.

Mr Faure, who assumed his duties on Saturday, said he wants to develop a dialogue to help prepare the third and final referendum under the Noumea Accord on December 12th.

The date was set by the French government at Paris at a meeting at the start of the month - a choice welcomed by the anti-independence camp but criticised by the pro-independence side, which wanted the vote to be held in September 2022.

The meetings come amid a political stalemate which has left New Caledonia without a properly constituted government since early February.

High Commissioner in New Caledonia, Patrice Faure

High Commissioner in New Caledonia, Patrice Faure Photo: The Pacific Journal

Mr Faure said he wants all matters to be discussed in full transparency, including the possibility of reopening the restricted electoral roll used for the referendum.

According to him, the signatories to the Noumea Accord are set to meet either in Noumea or Paris before the end of July, but it is not certain whether the French prime minister will take part.

Mr Faure also said this week's talks will help determine the size of the police reinforcements needed for the referendum phase.

After the last referendum last October, anti-independence coalition wanted part of the results to be annulled, saying there was inadmissible and illegal pressure and intimidation on voting day, affecting thousands of voters in Noumea.

Over 53 percent of the electorate rejected independence.