Embargoed French independence for New Caledonia report stirs comments

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Polling station in New Caledonia
Polling station in New Caledonia - France now interested in a yes-vote "at last". Image: France 24

RNZ Pacific

New Caledonian politicians have begun commenting on an embargoed French government paper about the implications of the third independence referendum due next year.

Media reports said the 44-page outline of what a “yes” or “no” vote in the next referendum could mean was not expected to be released to the public until the middle of next week, when New Caledonian leaders are due to start a week of talks in Paris at the invitation of French Prime Minister Jean Castex.

The document was only released to New Caledonian politicians who joined the French overseas minister on a retreat last year.

Caretaker territorial President Thierry Santa told the local daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes that the document would feed discussions in Paris around the stance taken by the anti-independence parties.

President of the Southern Province Sonia Backes said the document was extremely precise from a legal and financial point of view.

A pro-independence politician, Victor Tutugoro, described it as “very dense”, comprehensive and posing the relevant questions.

Another pro-independence leader, Jacques Lalie, said he was not surprised about the paper, as the French state was “at last” interested in a possible yes-vote.

France has been asked to organise a third referendum, which has to be held before October next year, under the terms of the Noumea Accord.

The two previous votes were against independence with a narrowing margin – 56.4 percent for the status quo in 2018, followed by 23.26 percent in 2020.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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