The separatists of New Caledonia have accepted the principle of an enlargement of the electorate for the provincial election of 2024, until then one of the sticking points in the discussions on the future status of the archipelago, we learned Sunday from the Ministry of the Interior and Overseas.
Visiting the French territory of the South Pacific since Thursday, Minister Gérald Darmanin is leading a new round of bilateral negotiations with the separatists of the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS) and supporters of maintaining the archipelago under the authority of Paris.
Under the Nouméa Accord signed in 1998, three referendums on self-determination rejected independence. But the last one, in December 2021, is contested by the FLNKS.
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The government has since tried to revive dialogue between the two camps on the future of the archipelago but has so far failed to obtain the holding of tripartite discussions. Among other sticking points, loyalists and separatists disagree on the composition of the electorate for the provincial election scheduled for next year. The former are in favour of its enlargement, which the latter has always refused so far.
During the latest discussions, "the State proposed seven years of residence (in New Caledonia to be registered on the electoral lists, editor's note) and the integration of the 11,000 native Caledonians for the moment excluded from the vote," reported the ministry. "The FLNKS answered yes for natives and 'ten years minimum' (of residence), subject to technical work to be carried out in the coming weeks," continued the same source. "This is a huge step forward in the discussion process," said the minister's entourage.
The pro-independence camp did not immediately confirm or comment on this information. During his visit - the third since last November - which ends this Sunday, Darmanin presented to both sides an assessment of the Nouméa Accord and an "audit of decolonization" which was the subject of strong reservations on the part of FLNKS.