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New Caledonia

Is France trying to destroy Kanaks?

The Kanaks, indigenous people of New Caledonia, could be made to disappear and as such France’s attempt to recolonise New Caledonia should not be accepted, said a spokesperson for a pro-independence delegation from New Caledonia.

The United Nations Special Committee on Decolonisation met in St Lucia last week and representations were made from both pro-independence and anti-independence delegations from New Caledonia.

Pro-independence representative Dimitri Qenegei warned that the Nouméa Accord was in jeopardy.

He said the administering power had reoriented to a colonial method, and President Emmanuel Macron of France made a unilateral decision to conduct the third referendum.

Noumea, New Caledonia. An aerial picture of the French territory. Picture: Twitter

Mr Qeneqei said the result was that 90 per cent of pro-independence supporters opted not to vote.

He said the results were now being displayed as a true outcome of the referendum, and while France was critical of China in the Pacific, its own behaviour was very contradicting.

He said France decried the possibility of Chinese troops in Solomon Islands as imperialism, while France had placed troops in New Caledonia to contain the Kanaks.

Mr Qenegei said the recent French policies were nothing but a return to the source of colonisation.

He warned that France’s intention to open up the electoral rolls to French people who arrived after 1998 was the ultimate weapon to drown the Kanak people and recolonise New Caledonia.

Anti-independence representative to the meeting Naïa Wateou, said New Caledonians expressed their wish to remain within the French Republic and emphasised that their will must be respected.

She slammed the pro-independence activists for not accepting the process “when the outcome of the votes does not suit you,” and deplored the boycott, insisting the vote was held properly and legitimately.

Noumea, New Caledonia. Picture: Twitter

Another New Caledonia representative Robert Kapoeri, told the committee that New Caledonia consists of three provinces, two of which are in the hands of the pro-independence population.

He said the Kanaks experienced difficulty going to the polls due to lockdown and other pandemic-related restrictive measures, adding that the boycott meant that voters were even more heavily affected.

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Ms Wateou emphasised that the pandemic could have been worse without the support of France, including its establishment of 60 vaccine sites. New Caledonia and France complement each other’s efforts to stop the virus, she said.

Mr Qunegei stressed that the Kanaks do not accept re-colonisation and called for efforts to bring the colonial power to reason.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said in his video message: “Coming from a former colonial Power, I sadly know that a straight line can be drawn from yesterday’s conquests and today’s challenges faced by Non-Self-Governing Territories.”

Countries seeking independence met with the UN. Picture: Twitter

He said these countries were particularly vulnerable because of persistent challenges that pre-date the pandemic, such as stretched health systems, economic woes and the real-time devastation of climate change, especially rising sea levels.

There are 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories under the purview of the special committee: American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), French Polynesia, Gibraltar, Guam, Montserrat, New Caledonia, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States Virgin Islands and Western Sahara.

The administering powers are France, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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