Pacific / New Caledonia

New Caledonia parties at deadlock over independence referendum date

09:19 am on 7 October 2019

New Caledonia's political parties are at a deadlock over the timing of the next referendum on independence from France.

It comes as the signatories to the Noumea Accord ready themselves for this week's meeting with the French prime minister Edouard Philippe in Paris.

The pro-independence FLNKS movement wants the plebiscite to be held as close as possible to the cut-off date of 3rd November 2020.

But the anti-independence side's Sonia Backes, who is the president of the southern province, says the referendum should be held as early as July.

According to her, a discussion could then begin on creating a new statute for a New Caledonia within the French republic that could be put to a referendum before the end of President Emmanuel Macron's term in 2022.

The Noumea Accord provides for a maximum of three referendums between 2018 and 2022 to complete the decolonisation.

In last year's referendum, 56.7 percent of voters opted for the status quo after opinion polls suggested more than 70 percent would reject independence.