France invites drafts to revise New Caledonia's statute

France's overseas minister Sebastien Lecornu has called on New Caledonia's political parties to draw up proposals on the territory's new statute within the French republic, following last Sunday's referendum.

More than 96 percent of New Caledonians voted against independence in a referendum boycotted by Kanaks. It was the last of three referendums, which concluded the 1998 Noumea Accord on the territory's decolonisation.

The Accord's provisions on the territory's institutional make-up remain in place until a new statute has been adopted.

While the anti-independence camp and Paris welcomed the referendum result, the pro-independence parties said the vote was bogus and they would not recognise its outcome.

They plan to challenge its legitimacy both nationally and internationally.

After previously saying they would not enter any talks with France until after next year's presidential election, the Palika Party has now excluded any talks on what it called an 'umpteenth accord' for a statute for New Caledonia within France.

Lecornu accepted the pro-independence parties' position to refuse formal talks until after the French election.

However, Philippe Gomes of the anti-independence Caledonia Together Party said the New Caledonia question should not be put on stand-by until the French election.

He said it is all very well to accommodate the pro-independence camp, but a balance must be struck to include the anti-independence side.

The pro-independence side said it did not feel bound by the plan to draw up a new statute by June 2023, which was to be put out for a vote.

Pacific Awakening, a mainly Wallisian party that holds the balance of power in New Caledonia's Congress, said a final statute should be proposed that would offer shared sovereignty.

Lecornu wrapped up his New Caledonia visit yesterday, and said there will be a broad consultation of civil society and the public for a stocktake and to hear about their aspirations.