New Caledonia’s pro-independence Union Calédonian has proposed September 24 this year as the date by which an accord be reached with France to complete decolonisation.
The party, which wants independence for the territory by 2025, has chosen the date because it will mark the 170th anniversary of New Caledonia becoming a French colony on 24 September 1853.
The call was made by the party’s president Daniel Goa after reports from Paris that the French interior minister Gerald Darmanin would return to New Caledonia in early March to advance work on a new statute for the territory.
In three referendums, New Caledonia rejected full sovereignty, but the pro-independence Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS), which includes the Caledonian Union, refuses to recognise the third vote, held in December 2021, as the legitimate outcome of the decolonisation process.
As the three votes concluded the Noumea Accord without New Caledonia becoming independent, the stakeholders concerned must be convened to discuss the situation.
The FLNKS is scheduled to hold its congress at the end of February to prepare its position for the bilateral talks scheduled with Darmanin.
On UN decolonisation list
New Caledonia has been on the UN decolonisation list since 1986, based on the indigenous Kanak people’s internationally recognised right to self-determination.
Goa said negotiations are only worthwhile if they deal with the emancipation of the country.
He said his side needs to know how the French state will withdraw and how it will compensate New Caledonia for 170 years of the “looting of its resources”.
The anti-independence camp says a revised statute should be in place for the 2024 provincial elections.
The pro-French parties have said that by then the restricted electoral roll must be opened to all French citizens.