France accused on being partial as New Caledonia independence vote nears

The FLNKS flag widely used in New Caledonia Photo: RNZ Walter Zweifel

New Caledonia’s UNI pro-independence party alleges the French state fails to be impartial in the lead-up to the October referendum on independence.

Its leader Louis Mapou said with just over a month to go until the vote, the top French administrative court is yet to rule on the use of the French flag in the referendum campaign.

Mapou said in a statement that the court had not replied to his side’s challenge.

By law, French political parties are not allowed to use the tricolore in their material as not to convey the notion that they represent the state.

However the French government and a majority of New Caledonia’s Congress found that the flag could be used in the referendum context.

Mapou also said the French government’s statement this week on the implications of the referendum outcome was released without the consultation asked by the signatories to the Noumea Accord last year.

Campaigning starts ahead of October referendum on independence from France Photo: supplied

He also noted the French state left the field open for the multi-national nickel companies Vale and SLN to sell off New Caledonia’s heritage.

Pro-independence parties and Kanak chiefs oppose government plans to change the mining code which would allow the companies to export ore instead of processing it onshore.

Mapou said the French High Commissioner refused to meet the leaders of a march which was held this month in a bid to thwart the sale of the Vale plant to an Australian company.

Source: RNZ