French government participant in New Caledonia referendum process – Philippe

Edouard Philippe. Picture: AFP via RNZ

NOUMEA, 18 JULY 2018 (RNZ PACIFIC) – The French prime minister Edouard Philippe says in New Caledonia’s independence referendum the French government is not an arbiter but a participant in the process.

Philippe made the comment after he was called on by a French Polynesian parliamentarian for France to show the impartiality of a referee.

The prime minister said the French government has a role to play in the referendum process, respecting the outcome of the vote on 4 November while always ensuring that the peace will prevail.

Philippe said he hadn’t ignored the challenges that he says will continue.

He says irrespective of the outcome of the vote, on 5 November the two sides will have to talk to each other about the way forward so that the people of New Caledonia can keep living in peace.

Opinion polls suggest a majority will vote to stay with France.

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