Hundreds of officials expected ahead of referendum

Tuesday September 01, 2020 Written by RNZ Published in Small World
The French High Commission in New Caledonia. Photo: RNZ Pacific / Walter Zweifel The French High Commission in New Caledonia. Photo: RNZ Pacific / Walter Zweifel

About 300 French officials and international observers are expected in New Caledonia for the independence referendum on October 4.

 The French High Commissioner Laurent Provost said New Caledonia must remain Covid-19 free which means that all arrivals would be subject to the compulsory government-run two-week quarantine.

Provost said about 260 people would come from Paris, such as members of the highest administrative court, government officials and magistrates.

He said there would also be international experts from the United Nations and observers from the Pacific Islands Forum.

However, it is not immediately clear how they could travel, given the cut in the region’s air links.

New Caledonian carrier Aircalin only operates flights from Sydney, Tokyo and Wallis and Futuna.

Just over 180,000 people are entitled to vote, which is about 6000 more than in 2018.

In the last referendum, just under 57 percent voted for the status quo.

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