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New Caledonia

Independence fight moves to court

The European Court of Human Rights will hear a challenge on the legality of the third referendum for independence of New Caledonia from France.

According to reports in New Caledonian media, a voter wants France to be convicted in the court in Strasbourg for holding the vote in December despite pleas for its deferral.

New Caledonia is deeply divided by views towards independence. A third referendum was held in December last year which was boycotted by pro-independence supporters.

Requests had been made by pro-independence supporters to defer the referendum because COVID-19 was rampant during that time. This request was not considered and the referendum was held.

Pro-independence parties called on voters to boycott the referendum leading to a washout where more than 96 per cent of the electorate rejected independence.

Last month while at the Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting, Mr Mapou said New Caledonia refuses to be used by France to increase its military presence in the Pacific. Picture: Louis Mapou

France said it considers the outcome of the referendum as true results and has refused to budge in wanting to hold on to the Pacific nation.

Last month, France’s highest administrative court rejected a claim by the Kanak customary Senate that the impact of the pandemic was such that the referendum outcome was illegitimate.

The court found that neither constitutional provisions nor the organic law made the validity of the vote conditional on a minimum turnout.

The current president of New Caledonia Louis Mapou is the first pro-independence leader of the island nation and his appointment speaks volumes.

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Last month while at the Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting, Mr Mapou said New Caledonia refuses to be used by France to increase its military presence in the Pacific.

France has hinted at increasing its military presence in the Pacific by increasing military numbers.

Mr Mapou has also stated that French interference in New Caledonia also meant that the nation was not able to fully move with other Pacific nations as French interest trumped that of the Pacific.

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