New Caledonia referendum challenged in Paris court


A group of citizens in New Caledonia has asked France’s highest administrative court to postpone next Sunday’s third and final independence referendum.

In an urgent submission, 146 voters and three organisations said given the impact of the pandemic, it is unthinkable to proceed with such an important plebiscite.

They said because of the lockdown, campaigning has been unduly hampered as basic freedoms were impinged.

For weeks’ pro-independence parties unsuccessfully lobbied Paris to delay the vote and they now say they will neither take part in the vote nor recognise its result.

They also said they would challenge the process at the United Nations.

France, which deems the pandemic to be mastered, last week flew in almost 250 magistrates and judicial officials to oversee Sunday’s vote.

It also flew in about 2,000 extra police, including riot squads, to provide security for the referendum.