The United Nations has sent a delegation to New Caledonia in the lead up to crucial municipal and provincial elections as supporters and opponents of independence joust over who should have the right to vote. The UN delegation arrived in New Caledonia in March in the midst of the electoral campaign for local town councils. The visit also coincided with the arrival of French judges charged with updating the electoral rolls for national elections to be held on 11 May. According to a UN statement, the objective of the visit is to monitor “New Caledonia’s provincial electoral process, especially the technical issues related to the electoral lists for the provincial elections in May, as well as to uphold the spirit and letter of the 1998 Noumea Accord in this process.” New Caledonia was relisted with the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation in 1986, and since that time the UN has maintained a watching brief over progress towards a referendum on self-determination in the French Pacific dependency.
As Islands Business magazine goes to press, voters in New Caledonia are awaiting the results of two rounds of voting in municipal elections held on 23 and 30 March.
The final results will give an indication of the balance of forces within and between political camps. A good result in the municipal elections will also provide momentum for political parties as they campaign for elections in May for New Caledonia’s three provincial assemblies and national Congress.
This year’s election is the culmination of a long transition under the Noumea Accord – if the incoming Congress agrees by 3/5 majority, the country can proceed to a vote on New Caledonia’s final political status. After 15 years of collegial government, relations between leading political figures have begun to fray in the lead up to the crucial vote.