A group of citizens in New Caledonia has asked France’s highest administrative court to postpone next Sunday’s third and final independence referendum.
In an urgent submission, 146 voters and three organisations said that given the impact of the covid-19 pandemic, it was “unthinkable” to proceed with such an important plebiscite.
They said that because of the lockdown, campaigning had been unduly hampered as basic freedoms were impinged.
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For weeks pro-independence parties have unsuccessfully lobbied Paris to delay the vote and they now say they will neither take part in the vote nor recognise its result.
They also say they will challenge the process at the United Nations.
France, which deems the pandemic to be mastered, last week flew in almost 250 magistrates and judicial officials to oversee Sunday’s vote.
It also flew in about 2000 extra police, including riot squads, to provide security for the referendum.
Wallisian party opposes ‘political nonsense’
New Caledonia’s Pacific Awakening Party also says next Sunday’s referendum is a “political nonsense”.
The party’s leader, Milakulo Tukumuli, said the vote should not go ahead as planned because the pandemic has made campaigning impossible and pro-independence Kanaks said they would not take part in the process.