Wednesday, January 19

New Caledonia: the Council of State seized by a request for postponement of the referendum

A district of Nouméa on September 7, 2021 on the first day of confinement decreed to deal with the health crisis Theo Rouby

About 150 citizens of New Caledonia urgently ask the Council of State to postpone, because of the health situation, the third referendum on independence scheduled for December 12, AFP learned from their lawyers on Friday.

“While New Caledonia is going through (…) an unprecedented pandemic crisis, it is unthinkable that such a decisive consultation could be held for its future in these conditions”, underline the applicants who ask the judge for interim relief to order to the government the postponement of the consultation after the legislative elections of June 2022.

This latest ballot in the decolonization process of the Nouméa Accord (1998) is shunned by the separatists. They were asking for it to be postponed due to the Covid-19 epidemic, which “prevents a fair campaign from being conducted”.

But this motion for interim relief, which seeks to safeguard “a fundamental freedom that the administration has allegedly seriously and manifestly illegally infringed” and calls for a judge’s response within 48 hours, is a “cross-party, apolitical and citizen “carried by 146 voters,” mostly kanak, “and three associations, one of their lawyers, Vincent Brengarth, told AFP.

“The maintenance of the consultation endangers the voters given the current health situation”, characterized by a recent but sudden appearance of the Covid-19, believe the applicants.

Since September 9, when the island recorded its first death, “the health crisis has become dramatic” with 276 dead, “or 0.1% of the population”, further explain the applicants.

Particularly vulnerable to the virus, the Kanak people are also attached to long mourning rituals and cannot at this time “fully devote themselves” to such a consultation.

In addition, “at least 2,000 voters could not register” on the special electoral list because of the strict and then partial confinement, still in force until December 19, and “the electoral campaigns could not be held under suitable conditions “.

While the date of December 12 had been set by decree on June 30, “at a time when the Covid-19 had not hit New Caledonia”, the maintenance of the consultation today “is likely to favor opponents of independence “, consider the applicants, for whom the health situation” is all the more worrying “with the emergence of the Omicron variant.

However, the epidemic has been in decline for several weeks, even if the circulation of the virus remains active, which has prompted the government to maintain the ballot.

Faced with this decision, the separatists warned that they would not recognize the result and would contest it before the United Nations.

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