16 May 2023

Pacific Islands Forum won't 'intrude' in New Caledonia's decolonisation process

3:25 pm on 16 May 2023
Five pro-independence politicians, who are members of the pro-independent Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS), in the 11-member executive have resigned.

Photo: AFP

There is no support from the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) for New Caledonia's pro-independence FLNKS movement seeking to annul the outcome of the 2021 referendum on independence from France.

More than 96 percent voted against full sovereignty, but the FLNKS refuses to recognise the result because of a boycott by the Kanak population amid disagreements over the impact of the pandemic on the referendum campaign.

The FLNKS has been seeking international support for its view that the referendum result was not a legitimate outcome of the decolonisation process for the Kanak people.

A legal challenge by the customary Kanak Senate was rejected by France's highest administrative court, which found that neither constitutional provisions nor the organic law made the validity of the vote conditional on a minimum turnout.

Asked for the Forum's view, its chair, the Cook Islands prime minister Mark Brown, said the "Forum respects the due process of each country".

"It is not the Forum's role to intrude into the domestic matters of countries as they determine their independence or their dependence on other countries," Brown said.

Last year, a report by Forum diplomats found that "the result of the referendum is an inaccurate representation of the will of registered voters".

It found that the result "can be interpreted as a representation of a deep-seated ethnic division in New Caledonia".

The Forum secretary general Henry Puna told Islands Business last year that "I think the option taken by the FLNKS not to participate in the referendum was the honourable thing to do."

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