RADIO NZ – 5:03 am on 31 August 2020
Prospective voters in New Caledonia’s October referendum on independence from France have been given another week to register to vote away from their home.
A decree signed by the French prime minister Jean Castex reopens the registration window across the territory for another week until Saturday.
The option to vote away from home was meant to make it an easier process than to vote by proxy.
Kanak groups had said there were still about 5,000 voters who, for various reasons, hadn’t been able to register.
Last month, hundreds of people marched to the High Commission, asking for the registration period to be extended to 20 September.
The electoral roll, which has been the subject of prolonged controversy, is made up of indigenous Kanaks and includes only those non-Kanaks who have lived in New Caledonia continuously since 1994.
Just over 180,000 people are eligible, leaving tens of thousands of other residents off the roll.
Initially set for 6 September, the then French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe postponed the referendum until 4 October because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the first of three possible referendums in 2018, just under 57 percent voted for the status quo.
Should voters again reject independence this year, another referendum could be called by New Caledonia’s Congress within two years.