02 April 2014

Voter registration irregularities promoted by French authorities threaten to de-legitimise upcoming New Caledonia elections


"Voter registration irregularities have allowed thousands of ineligible French persons to register to vote in the upcoming elections while thousands of indigenous Kanaks have been mysteriously omitted from the voter rolls by French authorities who exercise total control over the electoral process of the colony. This scenario has major implications for the future self-determination of the Kanaky people, and makes a mockery of  the trilateral Noumea Accord which established an agreed voter eligibility criteria. This is now being violated.  The recent United Nations mission expressed serious concern over what is taking place during their visiting mission in March. But it is unclear whether the French authorities will make the necessary corrections since most of the newly 'eligible' voters would select candidates who wish to retain the French colonial status that France supports so that it can continue to exploit Kanaky marine and terrestrial resources of the territory. Such exploitation of natural resources in non self-governing territories is a clear violation of international law, but the French simply ignore such legal obligations. I am afraid that French manipulation of the electoral system in the territory threatens to de-legitimise the upcoming elections, and has serious implications for a successful process of self-determination for the Kanaky people."
"-  an international human rights defender  

Radio New Zealand International

Pro-independence group files over 7,000 challenges to names

WELLINGTON, New Zealand.  New Caledonia's pro-independence FLNKS movement has lodged more than 7,000 court cases to demand that thousands of voters be struck off the roll for next month's provincial election.

Voting will be restricted to long-term residents in line with the decolonisation process which, after the election, opens the way for a possible independence referendum.

The FLNKS insist that people who arrived in New Caledonia between 1988 and 1998 are only allowed to vote if they were also enrolled in 1998.

Special commissions assisted by magistrates from France's highest court have been revising the rolls for a month and refuse to remove any voter, which has now prompted the court action.

The FLNKS says in its submission that neither the law nor the constitution is changed by any declaration on the subject, even if it is by the prime minister.

The loyalists are fiercely opposed to the FLNKS stance and have formed an association to assist those threatened to be removed from the roll.

See also:

1 April 2014
General Assembly

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
Special Committee on Decolonization
2nd Meeting (AM)



Although greeted with some initial suspicion, a recent visiting mission to New Caledonia was generally well received, the Special Committee on Decolonization heard today.

Amadu Koroma ( Sierra Leone), who led the mission, reported that it took place from 10 to 15 March and was followed by a meeting with French Government officials in Paris on 17 March.  He said that some interlocutors initially questioned the mission’s motives given that provincial elections were due to take place in May.  However, the members believed they were able to win “hearts and minds” with the message of neutrality and shared objectives for a peaceful electoral process.

Once on the ground, Mr. Koroma reported, the mission’s programme went through last minute revisions to include meetings with those who had initially questioned the visit.  Members emphasized that they did not promote the national or regional interests of the Member States that composed the mission, although they understood the reasons for their concerns.

Through the visit, the mission discovered there were issues with the special electoral list, which would have a profound impact on who was considered a resident for voting purposes in the upcoming elections.  There was a marked lack of a unified interpretation of relevant legal provisions that determined who should be included on that list.  There were also concerns about the lack of sufficient time for completing the detailed and thorough work involved in reviewing the list, as well as the lack of important information on people’s arrival dates in the territory, settlement and initial registration.

The mission also determined that specialized training for Administrative Review members was imperative, although it had not yet taken place.  There were also concerns about challenges in reaching voters in hard to reach and isolated places.  Other items of concern included an alleged increase in the circulation of small arms, insufficient training opportunities for the Kanak peoples and an influx of immigrants.  During the trip, mission members also visited a university, where they met with student representatives who expressed their desires for peace.

The mission was organized ahead of upcoming provincial elections, regarded as the first stage of a referendum to elect a new Congress, which would oversee the last phase of the implementation of the Noumea Accord.  The Noumea Accord provides a timetable under which New Caledonia has gradually gained increasing autonomy from the French Government.

Following that presentation, the representative of Papua New Guinea noted that efforts were underway to finalize the mission report.  The referendum depended on ensuring that the special list was correct and that those who were supposed to vote actually voted.  It was incumbent upon the administering Power to ensure that the list was accurate.

The Special Committee then approved, as orally revised, the Guidelines and rules of procedure for the Pacific regional seminar (document A/AC.109/2014/17*), which would take place in Fiji from 20 to 23 May.  The Committee’s delegation would be composed of the Chair, his adviser and eight other Committee members; including members of the Bureau and four Committee members, to be selected from four regional groups: the African Group, Asia Pacific Group, East European Group, and the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States.

Nicaragua’s delegate indicated that her Government would like to participate in the regional seminar, if there was no other candidate put forward from her region.
On the issue of invitations to the seminar, the Chair said the Bureau had agreed the Committee should maintain its practice of extending invitations to select experts and non-governmental organizations.  Elected and appointed officials of Non-Self-Governing Territories would also be invited and invitations would also be extended to other Member States, administering Powers, specialized United Nations agencies, as well as regional organizations.

The representative of Papua New Guinea requested that the Chair encourage the administering Powers to participate in the regional seminar, as they had not been very active in years past.

The Committee — formally known as the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples — reviews the political, social and economic conditions in the 17 United Nations-listed Non-Self-Governing Territories.  It also organizes regional seminars to discuss the challenges of decolonization and works to ensure that the United Nations assists in the process of resolving them.

The following delegations are Committee members: Antigua & Barbuda; Bolivia; Chile; China; Congo; Côte d'Ivoire; Cuba; Dominica; Ecuador; Ethiopia; Fiji; Grenada; India; Indonesia; Iran; Iraq; Mali; Nicaragua; Papua New Guinea; Russian Federation; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Sierra Leone; Syria; Timor-Leste; Tunisia; United Republic of Tanzania; and Venezuela.

Remaining on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories are the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)[1], French Polynesia, Gibraltar, New Caledonia and Western Sahara, as well as American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands.

Following the regional seminar, the Committee will next meet in June.

* *** *

[1] A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).

African Union committed to support self-determination of Saharawi people


Addis Ababa, March 26, 2014 (SPS) - The Commissioner for Political Affairs of the African Union Dr. Aisha L. Abdullahi has expressed commitment of the AU to support the Saharawi people’s self-determination, hailing the well-organized life of the Saharawi refugees and the services provided to the citizens by the state in various domains.

In a press statement issued Monday about her visit to the Saharawi Republic (SADR), undertaken on March 16-18 2014, Mr. Abdullahi reiterated the African Union’s commitment “to continue to support the cause for self-determination of the Saharawi people,” expressing her satisfaction with “the well-organized life of Saharawi people, especially in the areas of women rights and welfare as well as the special attention given to the young people and culture.”

The AU Commissioner underlined that her visit to the SADR offered “an opportunity to see on the ground the resilience and unique experience of the Sahrawi state in the social and political domains as well as the various services provided to the citizens by the Sahrawi government despite the difficult conditions and the dawdling donor support.

She then announced a contribution of the African Union of a token amount of USD 100,000 in support of women empowerment activities in the Saharawi refugee camps.

During her 2-day visit to the Saharawi Republic (SADR), Dr. Aisha L. Abdullahi met with several officials in the Saharawi state including Mr. Abdelkader Taleb Omar, prime minister, Mr. Khatri Addouh, speaker of the Saharawi National Council (parliament), Mr. Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, minister of foreign affairs and Mr. Abdulrahman Abdallah, minister of African affairs, Mrs. Khadija Hamdi, minister of culture, Mr. Mohamed Lamine Bouhali, minister of national defense, Mr. Bah Dih Chikh Mohamed, the then minister of justice, Mr. Mohammed El-Ouali Akik, minister of occupied territories and community abroad, Mrs. Al-Azza Brahim, governor of the Wilaya of Bujodour, Mr. Hamma Bunia, governor of El Aaiun, Mrs. Fatma Mahdi, secretary general of the Saharawi Women Union, and Mr. Bouhabeini Yahya, president of the Saharawi Red Crescent.

She, moreover, met with the UN Humanitarian Country Team operating in the Saharawi refugee camps as well as the representatives of international organizations.
During this visit, the Commissioner visited some facilities in the Wilaya of El Aaiun, of which the Water Filtration Center, vocational training center for women, and children with disabilities’ center.

She also witnessed the closing ceremony of the school year and participated in handing out gifts to excelling students at the state level. (SPS)